New Security Bill to dismantle brutal Rhodesian spy agency

HARARE – The Movement for Democratic Change has drafted a National Security Bill suggesting far reaching complete overhaul of Robert Mugabe’s rogue spy spooks, the CIO, an outfit founded by the notorious Rhodesian police officer Ken Flower in the 60s from the remnants of the Federal Intelligence and Security Bureau.

If passed into law, the Bill will have far reaching effects on the transformation of the country’s intelligence gathering and information analysis for the government, after years of human rights abuses, reducing it to a Zanu PF millitia wing.

The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is the national intelligence agency or "secret police" of Zimbabwe. The CIO was formed in Rhodesia on the instructions of Prime Minister Winston Field in 1963 at the dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and took over from the Federal Intelligence and Security Bureau, which was a co-ordinating bureau analysing intelligence gathered by the British South Africa Police (BSAP) and the police forces of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

The first head of the CIO was Deputy Commissioner Ken Flower; during his tenure the BSAP Special Branch Headquarters were incorporated within the CIO, while the Special Branch retained its internal security function within the BSAP. The deputy head of the CIO, and eventual successor to Flower, was Danny Stannard.

His brother Richard Stannard, a former captain in the British Army Military Police, became the Director Military Intelligence (DMI) under Robert Mugabe. Richard, sometimes also known as "Slick," was, like Emmerson Mnangagwa, known to have been recruited by another foreign intelligence service, initially, but not solely, in order to penetrate his former colleagues in BMATT, the British Army Training Team sent to assist in the formation of the new Zimbabwe National Army.

Prime Minister Mugabe kept Flower in the role of head of the CIO after majority rule in 1980, when the country’s name changed to Zimbabwe. Flower had no more than a professional relationship with MI6 despite rumours that he had covertly and intermittently plotted with the British intelligence services to undermine Ian Smith’s government. He had, however, an especially good professional relationship with Sir Dick Franks, the professional head of MI6 at the time, as he had with all the other main intelligence agencies.

In March 1975 Flower ordered the assasination of Herbert Chitepo, then-leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union and some even suggest he was responsible for the fatal car-crash that killed legendary ZANLA Commander Enerst Tongogara by infiltrating Zanla forces in Mozambique.

There are allegations that after Ian Smith unilaterally declared Rhodesia independent Flower maintained his allegiance to the British government, or at least the Queen, spying on the Smith administration for MI6. The fact that Sir Humphrey Gibbs, the Governor of Rhodesia at the time of UDI, and treated shabbily by the illegal Smith Government, wrote the forward to Serving Secretly and referred to him there as ‘my friend Ken Flower’ lends credence to this view.

Under his leadership the intelligence service was brutal and it organised operations, including the hiding of arms caches on Zapu farms and tipped the then unsuspecting and unsophisticated Emmerson Mnangagwa and Robert Mugabe, who eventually reacted with brutal attack on Joshua Nkomo and ZIPRA members leading to the massacre of thousands of innocent civilian in Matebeleland.

Emmerson Mnangagwa became the first Minister of National Security from 1980 to 1988, and after General Peter Walls left the country under dubious circumstances related to making plans for a coup, he took over as Chairman of the Joint High Command, a similar organ to the current Joint Operations Command (JOC), which ochestrated a brutal campaign against opposition supporters in March 2008 Presidential run-off, and is Chaired by Mnangagwa himself.

Mnangagwa as Chairman of JOC adopted same tactics used by Rhodesian Security Forces of brutal murder, torture, and abductions in addition to burning of homes owned by opposition supporters in the abborted Presidential election run-off.

It is believed that Peter Walls was pushed out into exile by Ken Flower under the influence of the British because he belonged to the "old school" Ian Smith’s inner circle and the two had long running rivalry in the Rhodesian security apparatus, Joint High Command.

Ken Flower and South African intelligence aided by Western powers worked hard to stop Joshua Nkomo from gaining political influence in the region because of his closeness to the Cold War Russian KGB who supplied ZIPRA with long range anti air missiles that downed two civilians aircrafts bound for Kariba in the late 70s. South Africans feared he would influence Umkonto we Sizwe, ANC’s armed wing.

When Nkomo went into exile fleeing Robert Mugabe, he was denied political asylum in the West, because of the attrocities in 1978 and 1979 when ZIPRA, ZAPU’s armed wing shot down two civilian passenger planes of Air Rhodesia, killing a total of 102 passengers and crew and survivors were executed on the ground. Without a choice Joshua Nkomo was then forced to return to Zimbabwe and joined Robert Mugabe in a Unity Accord signed in 1987. From that onset, a defacto one party State ensued.

There are some suggestions that the two aircrafts where shot down by Rhodesian CIO operatives who wanted to assasinate General Peter Walls under the instructions of the notorious Ken Flower, and Nkomo made a mistake of gloating about it on a BBC interview. General Walls made last minute flight changes to survive the incident.

Also in the intelligence circles, it is suggested that Ken Flower engineered the bombing of Harare fuel deport in the late 70s, with the help of the British M16 as part of the plan to oust Ian Smith from power. Robert Mugabe’s Zanla forces have tried on many accassions to claim credit for that and more than 10 ex-combatants have given themselves medals and titles for that event, which sent huge flames blowing in the skies of Harare for weeks and pictures of Ian Smith at the scene clutching his heard in dispair.

General Peter Walls and Ken Flower’s relations had severely broken down in the Joint High Command, chaired by the General. They had fallen out on the direction of war against black rebellion, and Ken was working with the British to influence things in Rhodesia and General Walls was Ian Smith’s sidekick.

At independence, Robert Mugabe capitalised on that and he appointed Ken Flower the head of CIO and Ken assisted him to tame rogue Rhodesian elements and this culminated in the induction of Emmerson "Ngwena" Mnangagwa into the feared man loathed by many Zimbabwean people. That is when Mnangagwa got to know Ian Smith’s sanctions busters like John Bredenkamp who has been very close to Robert Mugabe’s government for many years.

One of the lesser known facts about Rhodesian CIO operations was their formation, control and running of what was originally the MNR – the Mozambique National resistance. Later known as RENAMO.

In his fascinating interview, recorded in 1988, record Flower revealed how the Rhodesians formed the MNR as an intelligence unit to counter ZANU/ZANLA as well as FRELIMO. In March 1980 control was passed to the South African Intelligence.

In addition to providing details about the operation, he gives rare insights from his personal experiences in dealings with the Portuguese, President Machel and the South Africans. 

The CIO was infiltrated by the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, through Ari Ben Menashe, allegedly a "former" Mossad agent now living in Canada. The Israeli interest was in the supply of plutonium from the Congo via Zimbabwe to North Korea and thence to Syria and Iran.

Over the years the quality of the spy agency has deteriorated due to dodgy political influences, Zanu PF infighting and it has since been reduced to a party millitia abducting, torturing and killing village politicians.

In the late 80s, CIO training was carried out with the assistance of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and everything fell appart when he was deposed.

The MDC was tasked with drafting the security legislation as part of concessions made by Zanu (PF) at the power-sharing talks that led to the current efforts to form an inclusive government.

The National Security Bill, which defines the parameters of the security forces, was drafted by the MDC and is being reviewed by the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) – a multi-party taskforce that will ensure compliance of all parties with the power-sharing deal.

The MDC wants the current publicly-funded national security agency to be reformed into a true information-gathering and analysis organization in a looming political dispensation where the MDC controls Parliament.

Sources familiar with the security legislation say the MDC has noted that the CIO is institutionally and culturally corrupt.

The MDC wants the CIO to boost its operational capacity and sharpen its intelligence-gathering methods to effectively protect the country’s interests, instead of being preoccupied with tracking down President Mugabe’s critics and political opponents.

There are suggestions for extensive and true democratic oversights on the spy agency. The MDC has also reportedly the formation of a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee to review and veto all aspects of CIO operations upon a majority or super-majority vote, according to a source.

Pullout ‘The CIO’s capabilities are undermined by its leaders’ zeal to pander to presidential whims at the expense of the public interest’

The Joint Operations Command, a security services think-tank under whose tutelage the CIO falls, is set to be abolished and replaced by a National Security Council, according to the terms of the power-sharing deal.

In the inclusive government, Mugabe will still head the new National Security Council, but with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai as his deputy in the security thinktank. This will also include top army generals who have previously vowed they will never salute Tsvangirai.

As an elite ‘enforcement’ arm of the Zanu (PF) government, the CIO has been in the forefront of Mugabe’s crusade for control of Zimbabwe, its societies and its resources, run under the cloak of "intelligence gathering" and brandishing the dagger of national security.

The CIO uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffing ballot boxes, rigging elections, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, death squads and even assassination.

The CIO is accountable to Mugabe alone and its charter allows it to "perform such other functions and duties as the executive may from time to time direct." The CIO budget is kept secret, is not subjected to audit by the comptroller or auditor general as other government departments are subjected to.

MDC shadow Defence minister, Retired Major Giles Mutsekwa, said the CIO has to be transformed into a refined national security organisation.

"As it is, the organisation is backward in terms of modern security philosophy and outlook," Mutsekwa said. "It was purely another arm of Mugabe’s party designed to benefit none other than Zanu (PF) and that is why it operates like a private army." The six major branches of the CIO are: Internal, which has counter-intelligence or counter-subversion and serious crime units; External with its analysis and liaison units; Security with a Close Security Unit (CSU) and another known as GPSI – Government Protection Security Inspectorate; Economics with policy planning and analysis; and Administration with personnel, training, finance, resource management, transport and other services.

There is also the Director-General’s pool, which is seen as a dumping ground for under-performing officers. A select few divisional heads of the 3,000-member strong CIO, report directly to Mugabe.

Immediately under the directors are deputy-directors, assistant directors, provincial intelligence officers, district intelligence officers, senior intelligence officers, senior assistant intelligence officers and ordinary-level intelligence officers.

Insiders say the rigid CIO structure entrenches an unreconstructed bureaucracy largely staffed with presidential toadies. Critics say the CIO’s capabilities are undermined by its leaders’ zeal to pander to presidential whims at the expense of the public interest.