CIO in chilling warning to independent media over Grace-Gonogate

ZIMBABWE State security agents have given chilling warning to editors of privately-owned newspapers who they urged not to repeat South African and British newspaper claims that Robert Mugabe’s all sorts wife, Grace, has had romping sessions with Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, amid reports of family feud over Mugabe's wealth as the catalyst of the latest besmirching stant.

Aides of both Gono, who is married, and Grace Mugabe, nee Marufu, strongly reject the allegations and some sources have linked the story to the family feud between Grace and Mugabe clan over the wealth of the feisty Zimbabwean dictator.
A family sources said, at the centre of the family feud is the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono who is fighting in the corner of Grace Mugabe and the President. On the other side there is the rest of the Mugabe clan led by Leo Mugabe who is the son of President Mugabe’s late sister Sabina.

On Tuesday, four senior Central Intelligence Organisation officials met newspaper editors separately in Harare and issued various threats, according to an editor who attended the meetings, but who wanted his publication to remain unnamed.

“They basically claimed they knew that our paper was planning to report the story, which sounded like fishing to me. I pretended I had no clue what they were talking about and forced them to go over it.

“They said someone might die if we go on and repeat the allegations, they made that very clear,” he said.

The editor said the CIO operation appeared aimed at "getting the threats in before the midweek papers and weekend editions" of the Financial Gazette, News Day, Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newspapers.

An online publication linked to Zanu PF said Mugabe met Gono for lunch on Monday, and advisers of the two men had met on Tuesday and Wednesday morning to map a strategy of tackling the damaging reports first carried in both the UK and South African Sunday Times newspapers.

A source familiar with the discussions said: “These have been intense discussions. Their lawyers have advised them that they have strong grounds to sue the Sunday Times newspapers for libel, but the political advisers are split.

“Some are saying they would rather the matter be totally ignored, but those on the opposite end of the planning say this would create a permanent impression that reports of the affair were true – something which would dog the rest of Mugabe’s presidency and subject both Gono and the First Lady to unending public ridicule.”

Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe and his wife made their first joint public appearance since Sunday at the burial of his brother in law at Kachere Farm in Concession on Tuesday.

Bonny Brian Gumbochuma, who died aged 57 last Saturday, was married to Grace Mugabe’s elder sister. Mugabe described the late Gumbochuma as a humble person who helped him “integrate into the Marufu family”.

However, speaking to the media in private, an associate of a family member of the Marufu family revealed that although Gono and Grace are related, their relation was not strong until after Grace had married Mugabe. 

“Grace is aunt (mainini) to Gono” the associate said, adding that this relation is common with villagers in a Chieftainship who may sometimes not see each other for a whole lifetime. It is in this light that the associate alleges that is possible Gideon Gono and his just become-rich ‘aunt’ Grace could form an affair without remorse or restraint.

In the early 80s Gono was assigned by the CIO to spy on white executives at National Breweries where he infiltrated the company executives as a tea boy in a text book sting operation that eventually forced the Senior Managers of the Brewery to flee the country and leading to the eventual takeover of the company by the quasi-State owned Delta Corporation.

In the years gone by, Mr Gono has been at the centre of the President and his family’s complicated business network both at home and abroad and this has not gone down well with the rest of the Mugabe clan who feel more and more ostracised as his wife’s relatives take more influence in his wealth.  

At the same time when Mr Gono gained prominence and influence in the President’s wealth, Leo Mugabe who used to be the President’s favoured and trusted family member has hit hard times as all political avenues and business prospects have been closed for him by Grace Mugabe’s people who are surrounding the President leading to bitter family feuding and skulduggery and the latest media briefing in a South African newspaper. 

Mugabe has staffed most key positions in the government with Grace Mugabe’s relatives particularly in the Justice and Foreign Affairs Ministries.

Sources close to the family said the fall-out over President Mugabe’s wealth has escalated and got worse since the death of Sabina Mugabe amid reports that the President took two Harare houses owned by his late sister and gave them to his daughter Bona and his son Robert Mugabe Jr. much to the outcry by everyone in the Mugabe clan.The majority of the members of the Mugabe family are accusing the President and his wife Grace of "killing" Sabina Mugabe using witchcraft.

The pair is also accused by family members of causing the ill health to the President’s younger sister Bridgette Mugabe who has been in intensive care in a Harare hospital for four months and she has requested that the President and his wife be kept away from her.

All of President Mugabe’s sisters and close relatives have fallen out with First Lady who they accuse of twisting their brother’s head. Mugabe used to travel to his Zvimba every weekend, but this has since been reduced to three trips in a year.