POLITICAL tension continued to mount in the country yesterday amid reports that the military had extended its dragnet to “fish out” more suspected “criminal elements” in President Robert Mugabe’s government and ruling Zanu PF party.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
This came as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces moved in to restore order in the country with the release of Central Intelligence Organisation director (security) Albert Miles Nguluvhe yesterday.
“He has been released. He is free to go. It’s important to understand that he is not a member of the G40, but we wanted to alienate him with Mugabe,” a senior military official said.
Nguluvhe was picked up by military officials as part of a crackdown on “criminals around the President” who included all ministers connected to a faction of the ruling Zanu PF party known as G40. The faction is believed to be led by First Lady Grace Mugabe and boasts among its ranks Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and his Local Government counterpart Saviour Kasukuwere.
Other prominent figures in the faction that was bitterly opposed to axed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to succeed Mugabe also include Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, the President’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao (Public Service minister) and Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi.
There were conflicting reports on Mphoko’s whereabouts yesterday with some claiming he was also under house arrest after being arrested in Chinhoyi while trying to flee the country. But other reports said Mphoko had flown to Japan after attending Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. Mzembi is also outside the country, while Zhuwao is reportedly holed up outside the country.
Kasukuwere and Moyo were reportedly extracted from Mugabe’s private residence in Harare’s leafy Borrowdale area before being taken to the fortified KGVI military barracks.
Early yesterday reports filtered through that Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Paul Chimedza had been nabbed in Bubi as he tried to sneak out of the country through the Beitbridge Border Post.
The net was said to also be closing in on other G40 leaders including provincial chairpersons, youth and women’s league executives. There were unconfirmed reports that women’s league secretary for administration Letina Undenge might also have been picked up. Zanu PF youth league secretary Kudzanai Chipanga was arrested early on Wednesday before he later went public apologising to Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga and other top military officials for denigrating them in a statement on Tuesday.
Chipanga claimed that the offensive statement had been originated elsewhere and handed to him by one Rodney Dangarembizi, one of Grace’s major fundraisers.