CIO steps up citizen surveillance

via CIO steps up mass citizen surveillance | The Zimbabwe Independent by Elias Mambo/Paidamoyo Muzulu

President Robert Mugabe’s government, through the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), has stepped up mass surveillance on private citizens’ lives, particularly those perceived as political threats, as the monitoring has widened beyond phone-tapping and e-mail interceptions to scrutinising activities on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Well-placed sources said the intensified abuse of state apparatus for partisan political agendas is a result of Mugabe and his party’s paranoid fears of civil unrest following their disputed victory in the July 31 general elections.

Sources said security forces were also put on high alert after polls.

The main opposition party MDC-T claims the elections were rigged, and their position has received support from international powers such as the United States and European Union members.

“Soon after elections, the situation was unpredictable as Zanu PF was unsure of the people’s reaction, so CIO tightened surveillance to intercept communications. There is paranoia because Zanu PF is not sure of the mood of the people following allegations of rigging leading to his party’s controversial landslide win,” said a senior government official.

Insiders say targeted groups and individuals’ communication activities are being monitored by CIO from designated listening posts in Harare, mainly in Mount Pleasant.

“Targeted groups and individuals’ communications and social media activities are being monitored and at times the CIO obtains recordings of voice calls from local cellphone providers under the guise of carrying out state security operations,” the source said.

The recent publication of Elizabeth Tsvangirai’s private correspondence with her alleged lover a fortnight ago exposed abuse of the state security apparatus to target opponents for political reasons and not national security purposes.

The Elizabeth episode is not an isolated incident as CIO has a history of snooping or deliberately setting traps for private citizens perceived as anti-Mugabe and Zanu PF.

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti of the MDC-T and former Roman Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube are prominent victims of such state surveillance.

Biti’s private SMS correspondence with a female staffer at Treasury were splashed in the government-controlled Sunday Mail while Ncube was recorded by cameras in a compromising position with female church congregants at his official residence through use of closed circuit television.

However, under Zimbabwean law, where closed circuit television cameras are installed this should be accompanied by a public notice of the presence of such cameras.

Mugabe’s paranoia about reactions over polls stretches back to 2005 when he ruthlessly unleashed Operation Murambatsvina, a purported urban clean-up, but actually a pre-emptive strike triggered by fears of an urban revolt.


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    A bit twitchy are we?

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    Chara 10 years ago

    Saka unotya chii kana vanhu vachikuda,duzvi.

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    Sibangilizwe Lethu 10 years ago

    I agree with Chara , fear your own people whom you claim have resoundingly voted for you. hahaha chokwadi richabuda pachena . You rigged the elections.Its good that you are slowly revealing what really happened.

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    jongwe power 10 years ago

    Of course they know you all support our Divine Emperor. They just want to be really, really sure that you love and support him with all your heart and soul. After all, you don’t want to take a dip in a vat of acid, or see the bottom of Lake Kariba, do you?

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    Murairwa 10 years ago

    This is simply a perception. This writer writes for the opposition and therefore would make up stories to entice his MDCs readership. All nations do listen on anyone they suspect to be subversive. What wrong with that. If the USA does it, ohh its fine because they want to make sure that their national security is not compromised. If the CIOs do it, ohh, well they have no right to do so. This goes on and on with regard to things which the opposition feels shouldn’t be done. If the world was fair and free of threats, why would any leaders have security aides. So it is annoying when a ZANU-PF governement does the same. Shame on you guys.

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      Cut the BS! The difference between the activities of the US and ZImbabwe is that the CIO spies on people not to protect national security, but to advance the political agenda of Mugabe and ZANU-PF. That’s not fair.

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      Whether it is USA, China, Guniea or Zimbabwe- when a state develops any sort of paranoia, epsecially towards its own people, the removal and violation of rights/freedoms also follows with certainty- Be it blatantly or clandestinely- all in the name of “protection of the state”. It does not matter whether it is instigated by fear of terrorist attacks or seemingly in Zimbabwe, fear of invasion by the West. If you want to measure how policed a nation is, it is pretty simple- just examine the people’s perception of the state security forces, if fear marks the basis of their perception then well done to the state- it has successfully created a police state! In Zimbabwe ,fear of the state is more paramount and more real to the citizenry than is fear of military invasion by another country! A shame really.

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    Murairwa which world do yu come from. are a Zimbabwean.maybe yu were adopted from Mozambique.Our Charlie ten are good at destroying their own people period.

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    Langabi Shakespear Ngomane 10 years ago

    I don’t care because ‘ave nothing to hide.

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    conrad 9 years ago

    Their paranoia will not help for the chimurenga drums are beating spears n bowsn arrows are being sharpened the prophecy of Mbuya NeHanda is about to be fulfilled,CIO have no chance watch out