President Robert Mugabe ordered the late former army commander General Solomon Mujuru to be put under surveillance, but the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) failed to do so, it has been learnt.
Instead, the CIO reportedly informed Mujuru of the President’s alleged intentions.
The information is contained in a cable dispatched to Washington from Pretoria, South Africa, on June 12, 2007, which was intercepted and leaked by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
Mujuru is reported to have told former journalist Sydney Masamvu, who is now an analyst for the Institute of Democracy in Africa, that President Mugabe had tried to put him under CIO surveillance three months earlier, but that the CIO immediately informed him of the alleged plot.
Masamvu reportedly met Mujuru in Harare and discussed wide-ranging issues on Zimbabwe’s political environment. He later discussed contents of his deliberations with US envoys stationed in Pretoria.
“Mujuru also told Masamvu that (President) Mugabe had tried to put him under CIO surveillance three months ago, but that the CIO refused and told him immediately,” read the cable.
Yesterday, Masamvu told NewsDay from Pretoria his discussion with Mujuru was in the context of the formation of Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party to challenge President Mugabe’s continued hold on power.
“The discussion was in the context of the formation of Mavambo,” Masamvu said.
“There were rumours at that time that Mujuru was his (Makoni’s) lead. Mavambo did not start from nowhere. The rumour of Mavambo had started long before and Mujuru was being linked to its formation.”
Masamvu said the late Retired Army General gave him an audience on several occasions.
“I knew Mujuru from a long time ago when I was still at The Financial Gazette. I met with him many times. He gave me an audience. He was a person whom I could meet in many social set-ups,” Masamvu said.
“I have met politicians from across the political divide because of my work as a journalist and as a researcher over the past 10 years. I am not sworn to any public office. I am not employed as a public officer. I meet anyone whom I want because of the nature of my job. I talk to politicians from Zimbabwe, Swaziland, South Africa and the entire region.”
Mujuru died two months ago in a mysterious inferno at his Beatrice farm. Police investigations are still to be made public. Mujuru was declared a national hero and his remains were interred at the National Heroes’ Acre. His wife, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, has demanded thorough investigations, saying she was not satisfied with the circumstances in which the late army commander died.
Masamvu also reportedly told American diplomats in Pretoria that at that time Mujuru would have handed President Mugabe over to international prosecutors if he could.
The cable said: “Rex Mujuru told Masamvu last week in Harare that Mugabe’s biggest fear is prosecution (i.e. before the International Court in The Hague), but that many in the party (Zanu PF), including Rex himself, no longer share Mugabe’s concerns and would not be upset if he were prosecuted.”
Mujuru’s liberation war name was Rex Nhongo. The cable also quoted Masamvu saying the MDC-T would win the 2008 elections, but they needed significant help in building capacity to enable the party to govern effectively.
“Masamvu then joked that given the shallowness of the MDC ranks, the party would have to run two pages of classified ads just to get enough ministers to fill a Cabinet,” the cable released by WikiLeaks says.
According to the cable, US officials in Pretoria viewed Masamvu in high esteem and valued the information he discussed with them.
“Masamvu’s insights into the interpersonal, political and social dynamics influencing events in Zimbabwe are in demand by regional and international leaders and analysts,” US officials in Pretoria said in the cable.
“As such, Masamvu has become as much an influential player in these complicated developments as he is a keen-eyed observer and analyst. Nevertheless, his judgment is valued because he is often close to the mark and has the rare ability to move comfortably between opposition and ruling party leaders while maintaining warm associations within the Zimbabwean and international NGO communities.”
But, previous cables revealed Masamvu shared information he gave to the US embassy in Pretoria with South African government officials.