HARARE – Ahead of next year elections, Zimbabwe’s opposition finds itself worried sick that the country’s feared secret police have infiltrated their ranks.
This follows stunning developments earlier last week when former security advisor to then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office during the stability-inducing GNU, Pearson Mbalekwa, won Zanu PF primary elections for the Chiwundura constituency.
The 64-year-old former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officer joined the MDC in 2007 as a special advisor to Tsvangirai and then zoomed up to the post of national security advisor after Martin Rupiya unceremoniously quit.
Mbalekwa served in the CIO for 12 years.
Mbalekwa, a former Zanu PF MP and central committee member, resigned from Tsvangirai’s office after the MDC leader’s defeat in the disputed 2013 presidential vote.
In quitting, Mbalekwa said he was protesting warped policies by Tsvangirai, indiscipline and lack of trust by the party’s top brass who doubted his loyalty because of his intelligence background.
He was to return to Zanu PF, where he was duly rehabilitated and readmitted, resulting in last week’s primary elections in which he emerged victor after beating 20 contenders.
The expose of Mbalekwa’s true colours has raised alarm among MDC supporters, civil society and ordinary Zimbabweans who questioned the extent to which the CIO has infiltrated popular mass movements.
With questions now being asked over the bonafides of the opposition’s key officials and their connections to Zanu PF, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said there is need for the opposition to be extra careful.
“The MDC is a mammoth organisation and thousands, if not millions of Zimbabweans, would like to be associated with us since we are arguably the largest and most popular political party in the country.
“We are acutely aware that Zanu PF spies and other political spooks are always trying to infiltrate our party and to cause havoc, mayhem and confusion…as they say in the Shona language, ‘hapana musha unodyiwa chikafu pakashaya bete, nhunzi kana, gozho’…we know that the CIO will always try to infiltrate our organisation.
“In fact, there is a whole CIO desk at Chaminuka Building in Harare that works 24 hours everyday on the MDC. The Zanu PF regime knows that the MDC is the biggest and most potent threat to their hold on power and as such, they will do whatever it takes to try to infiltrate us and cause splits and divisions,” Gutu said.
With the country hurtling towards next year crunch elections, opposition parties are still pushing for security sector reforms, raising concerns over the so-called conflation of the State and key institutions such as the intelligence.
On her part, National People’s Party (NPP) president Joice Mujuru said the intelligence and military are working flat out to derail the formation of a grand coalition, even going to the extent of considering killing opposition activists.
Mujuru, who reportedly has links with security apparatus, told a rally in Chitungwiza on Saturday last week that money is being used to try and wreck the coalition, which analysts and observers say could end President Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule.
“That we have agreed as the MDC and NPP has caused panic in Zanu PF, there is no peace in Zanu PF as we speak. They tried everything possible to scuttle the coalition…you know the only industry left is the police, army and CIO, varikuedza kuti piringisha,(they are trying to derail us) but we are saying to them let us free you, we want to liberate you.
“This is not the time to abduct people, why are you doing that to people who want to liberate you?You are being sent to kill. Just remember it is you who will be haunted by the spirit of the dead,” Mujuru, who still has intimate knowledge of the goings on in government structures, said.
Although Mugabe has publicly pooh-poohed opposition party efforts to forge an alliance ahead of next year’s crunch elections – behind the scenes, the ruling party is working flat out to ensure that the coalition suffers a still birth.
Mugabe has described the opposition parties as “a confused lot.”
“We look with glee, we look with joy as they daily turn on each other, while pretending to chase a mirage they have termed grand coalition, apparently unaware of the grand defeat that stares them in the face,” Mugabe told his Central Committee last month.
Recently, Mujuru parted ways with her long-time allies Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo alleging that the duo was working with the dreaded secret police to torpedo the formation of a grand coalition.
And there is also acknowledgement within both Mujuru’s NPP and Tsvangirai’s MDC that the two parties have been infiltrated.
However, Mujuru has said Zanu PF — that is split along two antagonistic factions — is not as strong as it once was as it has been deserted by war veterans, for long the dynamos and foot soldiers of the ruling party.