via Mutasa tempting fate | The Herald June 24, 2015 by Felex Share
Former Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa faces possible arrest for breaching the Official Secrets Act after disclosing to the private media some of the operations of State security agents, legal experts concurred yesterday.
Mr Mutasa once superintended over the State Security ministry.
The experts said his utterances jeopardised and exposed the security interests of the State.
This week Mr Mutasa disclosed to the private media some of the operations of the Central Intelligence Organisation and the Joint Operations Command. JOC is a structure of top security personnel that meets once a week and Mr Mutasa regularly chaired its meeting when he was in charge of State security.
Said Mr Mutasa: “Of course you know that some waiters in hotels work for the CIO. Your phones are listened to a lot. The CIO is huge and it produces many reports. From the UN there will regularly be a report. A report about the British. Or India. Not very good reports really. I had to read them. They made me tired.”
Under Section 4 of the Official Secrets Act it is a criminal offence for any person who has in his possession or under his control any secret official code, document or information that has been entrusted in confidence to him by a person holding an office in the service of the State; or he has obtained or to which he has had access owing to his position as a person who holds or has held office in the service of the State to communicate or publish it to any person.
The offence attracts a jail term of not more than 20 years.
All ministers took an oath of office during which they swear not to divulge certain State information under the Official Secrets Act.
Legal expert Mr Tendai Toto, said Mr Mutasa was prohibited from communicating such information as he was abetting counter intelligence activities.
“Information regarding places, institutions and or organisations where state security agents are operating from and probably what they are doing there in terms of their official state security assignments, is such information that is prohibited from publication and communicating to any person in terms of the Official Secrets Act,” he said.
“The information disclosed by Mr Mutasa can pre-alert enemies of Zimbabwe or foreign agents who may be haboured in such places, institutions or organisations mentioned by Mr Mutasa. This has the effect of aiding and or abetting counter-intelligence activities against the running security programmes and projects by the enemies of Zimbabwe or such foreign agents.”
Mr Toto said Mr Mutasa’s conduct rendered State security vulnerable to external and internal security threats.
“Besides, there is the element of breach of intelligence ethics and the oath of office that Mr Mutasa took when he was entrusted with the running of the Ministry of State security some time back and recently when he was Head of State security in the President’s Office before he was relieved of his duties.”
Mr Mutasa was fired from Government and Zanu-PF where he was secretary for administration together with former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s cabal after their nefarious plan to topple President Mugabe was exposed.
Harare lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein, said Mr Mutasa had invited fire with his reckless remarks.
“If a person once worked or is working for a Government, one of the first things to do is bound yourself to the Act to preserve State secrets,” he said.
“If you breach, you are liable to criminal prosecution. If you start talking about the operations of security agents, you are inviting fire as is the case here.”
Mr Mutasa has gone wild since his sacking and has been in the media denigrating his former party and its leadership and including making unsubstantiated claims of election rigging.
Prominent Harare lawyer, Mr Jonathan Samukange weighed in: “No one should say statements that are intended to damage the State and go scot free. His statements can be equated to high treason. Some of his utterances are political and expected since his sacking, but if he goes on to reveal the operations of the state then he is violating the Act and can face the music for that.”
Another prominent lawyer who preferred anonymity for professional reasons said with his remarks, Mr Mutasa was putting the nation at risk.
“No official who took any oath should come out guns blazing publicly against the state he once served as he is doing,” he said.
“This is equivalent to the WikiLeaks and we all know the fate of that gentlemen (Julian Assange). It is not surprising if Mr Mutasa goes the same way. These are reckless statements and he should know that no matter how angry, offended or badly treated he might be, he is still bound by what he signed. I am sure wherever he is, if he is normal, he has seen that he made a blunder.”