via Grace ‘confirms’ illegal spying saga – DailyNews Live 20 November 2014 by Lloyd Mbiba
HARARE – First Lady Grace Mugabe has accentuated fears that President Robert Mugabe’s government was illegally spying on certain politicians, the media and other citizens.
This comes after the 49-year-old businesswoman has claimed — for two consecutive days — that she had “electronic evidence” of Vice President Joice Mujuru making disparaging remarks about her and the nonagenarian.
While the Zanu PF Women’s League-designate boss has said this in her increasingly personal attacks on Mujuru, analysts contacted by the Daily News slammed the practice, which they say was now liable to abuse.
“I trapped Mujuru and I now have a recording of her… speaking ill of me, and the president. I told people that l do not believe in gossip and those who want to report about Mujuru… should bring a video.
“I tell you, l once saw a recording where she was inappropriately dressed in a miniskirt and talking to someone,” Grace told a gathering of students in Mazowe this week, adding “we are tired of this stupidity” and the beleaguered VP must go.
But the unsolicited remarks — that private communications and other social activities could be under the radar — have drawn sharp criticism, and fire from human rights defenders and other citizens.
David Coltart, an ex-Cabinet minister and human rights lawyer, said the alleged snooping — on phones and other activities — was illegal, and a clear violation of the law.
“Just because you hate someone does not give you a right to spy on their private communication or video record them,” Coltart said.
“It’s a total violation of section 57 of the Constitution.
“There are no grounds whatsoever to interfere with one’s communication unless you are given a court order,” he said, adding he has always suspected that his mobile phone and other means of communication had been compromised by state security agents.
“I have always assumed for the last 30 years that my communication was intercepted and interfered with. But unfortunately, that has become part and parcel of Zimbabwe.
“The new Constitution makes it all illegal.”
Dewa Mavhinga, a human rights activist, said that security agencies have always spied on those suspected of being against the establishment.
“This confirms what we have been saying, that state security agents are snooping on citizens’ communication,” he said.
“It is the same way that the state apparatus were used to snoop on opposition parties.
‘You do remember the (Morgan) Tsvangirai scandal and treason charges.
“It is now clear that people in Zanu PF who kept quiet when state security agents spied on opposition and human rights defenders are the ones who are now on the receiving end. Otherwise there is nothing new. We need to separate the state from Zanu PF. The conflation of these institutions is the reason behind the abuse of security agents.”
On the other hand, former deputy Information minister Jameson Timba said the undemocratic actions also reminded him of the old Russia.
“It is despicable and done only during yesteryears of rogue regimes like the Soviet Union or their contemporary African tinpot dictators who are afraid of their own shadows,” the Movement for Democratic Change international relations head honcho said.
“A government cannot behave like a high school peeping Tom who peeps into people’s bedrooms and listens to their pillow talk,” Timba added.
Nhlanhla Ngwenya, a media analyst, said the unfortunate — if not deadly — side of these unwarranted actions was that they were not being done for the public good or security.
“It’s clear this wiretapping was not for the public good, but personal interest. This whole saga comes… when the democratic world is strongly pushing for strong safeguards for individual privacy and is frowning upon surveillance as a gross violation of individuals’ rights,” he said.
“This revelation thus should galvanise and mobilise Zimbabweans to demand adequate protection of their basic liberties,” Ngwenya added.
Apart from Mujuru, former spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa were allegedly caught — under what many believe to be intelligence stings — on tape discussing about the overthrow of Mugabe.
While the ex-Dare Rechimurenga stalwart was reportedly caught saying that the nonagenarian “will be shot”, Mutasa allegedly told one of his “concubines” if the Zanu PF leader does not accede to Mujuru’s ascendancy, then he will be eliminated — in what many believe was a honey trap.
Last month, the Herald also reported that deputy Health minister Paul Chimedza had reportedly called a relative of Constantine Chiwenga to say Grace had said the Defence Forces commander was a Rhodesian-era spy, specifically in the 1970s.