Zimbabwean private newspapers and online publications infiltrated by CIO

HARARE – The burglary that took place at the privately owned newspaper Newsday is an internal hatchet job carried out with the hand of staff members working for the newspaper and on the payroll of the Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal.

On Wednesday, the newspaper said unknown criminals broke into its offices in Harare on Monday night and stole a laptop belonging to the paper’s editor, Brian Mangwende, hard-drives and other components from computers used by senior editorial staff.

The stolen hard-drives contained vital information and data.

The value of the stolen property runs into thousands of dollars.

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The Zimbabwe Mail can reveal that our reporter spoke to a high level intelligence sources who said the newspaper is one of many publications and online websites infiltrated by the Central Intelligence Organisation on a grand scale.

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Newsday staff members whose computers were wrecked include the assistant editor, Wisdom Mdzungairi, political editor Kelvin Jakachira, sports editor Wellington Toni, chief reporter Owen Gagare and chief business reporter Mernat Mafirakurewa.

The thieves also targeted computers used by senior parliamentary reporter Veneranda Langa, business reporter Victoria Mtomba and sub editors Sam Mutsvanga and Lillian Chitare.

Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) chief executive Raphael Khumalo said: “It’s devastating. That kind of thing should not happen.”

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“There are CIO operatives’ working there and that is why they managed to target 14 computers and even knew very well the editor’s laptop.

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“In a worst case scenario the intended objective is to close the newspaper citing sensitive, classified information exhumed from these hard drives.”

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“The evidence could be even be fabricated, because the newspaper appears to be growing so fast in readership”, the source said.

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The sources also pointed out that they are quite a number of newspapers and online publications that have been hit by covert CIO operations, and said that those who have worked long enough for Zimpapers know this as part of a Jonathan Moyo legacy when he was Information and Publicity Minister.

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“Moyo’s model continues to be in operation. The publications our source gave out are: Financial Gazette, The Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard.

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“The CIO is sending its recruits to attend journalism courses, and they infiltrate papers as students on attachment. Some become employed thus established in various organizations”.

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On the online publications, the sources confirmed the widely circulated rumour that NewZimbabwe.com is now being run by the CIO operating at The Herald and also revealed that politburo member, Professor Jonathan Moyo and President Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba have direct access into the website’s Content Management System.

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“Money was poured into that site to do Zanu PF hatchet job and its editorial staff are having their full University school fees in the United Kingdom being paid by the CIO and their families in Zimbabwe have received lucrative goodies, including commercial farms.

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He also spoke of another Zanu PF controlled site, The Zimbabwe Guardian which used to be called TalkZimbabwe.

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The sources said the main man managing these sites is operating from the Zimbabwean embassy in London.

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Zimbabwean journalists in exile still remain a big threat to Zanu PF because of the big international publications they write for. Some are operating from within the country but cannot easily be harmed because of the global influence their media companies have.

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Of note, there is Sandra Nyarira of Voice of America journalists, Reuter’s correspondent Chris Chinaka, London Daily Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph correspondent Itai Mushekwe, and CNN writer Columbus Mavhunga.

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The sources said the establishment is definitely not happy with The Zimbabwe Mail, for countering the New Zimbabwe.com project and said they have assigned a special team to monitor it closely.

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