TENSION has reportedly gripped the Zanu PF government after daring burglars broke into Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Justice ministry offices at the New Government Complex in Harare on Tuesday night, with some top officials claiming it was an inside job involving the VP’s Zanu PF rivals.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said she was still gathering information about the alleged break-in.
“I will find out. I don’t have details at the moment,” she said.
However, officials at Mnangagwa’s office said the burglars gained entry through the roof after drilling the ceiling as the doors and windows were not tampered with. The offices are located on the sixth floor.
According to reports, Mnangagwa’s officials discovered the intrusion when they reported for work yesterday morning.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba told NewsDay yesterday that the break-in was the fourth on the same offices.
“There was a break-in last night at the offices of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This is the fourth time his same office has been broken into since last year, but all in all it’s the sixth taking into account the one while he was still at the Defence ministry and the other one at Zanu PF headquarters,” Charamba said.
“This is a very serious matter meant to bring harm on him. This is a very worrisome trend.”
Charamba hinted the intrusions might be a result of Zanu PF succession wars, but did not elaborate further.
When NewsDay visited the scene around mid-morning yesterday, there was a heavy police presence with sniffer dogs.
Part of the police details were from the forensic unit and others from the law and order section who were conducting preliminary investigations. Police also ran through the list of people who had visited the office in the last few days.
Officials at the scene refused to discuss their preliminary findings referring questions to Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Virginia Mabhiza or Mnangagwa himself.
Although Mabhiza could also not be reached for comment as she was said to be in meetings, she had earlier been quoted in reports saying the break-in had been discovered around 7am when the VP came to work.
“We are not very sure of the motive whether it was to gain entry or to insert objects, but this is what was done,” Mabhiza told the State media.
“So far we cannot confirm whether there was any access into the room. All we can say is that the ceiling was tampered with, with two very visible holes which were possibly drilled. We are not sure of the motive and we have not fully assessed what else could have been done in this office.”
Zanu PF is locked in a vicious leadership battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe, who turns 92 next month, with Mnangagwa seen as shoo-in to lead the party and country in the event that the veteran President decides to pass on the leadership baton.
But, an ambitious faction known as Generation 40, which is reportedly sympathetic to First Lady Grace Mugabe, was determined to stop Mnangagwa from succeeding the President in the Zanu PF power matrix.
The break-in also came as infighting in Zanu PF has reportedly reached alarming levels and just hours after Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane recovered a live bullet from his hotel room.
Mnangagwa is the Acting President having taken over from Phelekezela Mphoko on Monday. He reportedly spent part of his holiday with Mugabe in Asia, a visit that also compounded the Zanu PF succession issue.
Some top government officials blamed the VP’s political enemies within Zanu PF for the break-in.
“It’s obvious this is the work of the VP’s detractors. It’s true that there are officials plotting against him, but we don’t know what they want to achieve,” an official, who refused to be named, said.
“Mnangagwa is a very mature man who has maintained his cool when he is unnecessarily attacked. We don’t know how long he will maintain his cool, but as Zanu PF we should not act like the opposition and employ dirty tricks on our leaders. This is happening after he met President Mugabe last week. This is a calculated move to derail him but unfortunately it is not going to work.”
In 2014, the same office was broken into by unknown persons and again the shortly before his appointment as VP with Mugabe disclosing there was attempted cyanide poisoning that left Mnangagwa’s private secretary battling for life.
However, police findings on the two cases were never made public.
Late last year, Mnangagwa’s party foes pushed for the adoption of a woman Vice-President, a move that would have resulted in his removal.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo refused to comment on the allegations that the break-in was motivated by “succession wars” in the ruling party.
“I cannot comment on matters which are under police investigation. Police are investigating,” Khaya Moyo said.