15 March 2008

Zimbabwe: I've No Ties With Makoni - CIO Boss

Harare — DIRECTOR-GENERAL of the Central Intelligence Organisation Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe has distanced himself from Simba Makoni's political project saying media reports linking him to the group were bent on causing confusion in Government.

The Herald bumped into Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe in Harare yesterday and asked him to comment on the reports that he was linked to Makoni's presidential bid.

He said the reports -- being splashed by online news agencies -- were the opposition and its Western handlers' strategy of causing confusion within Government and Zanu-PF as part of their regime change agenda.

"It is uncharacteristic that I answer you because the CIO does not talk to the Press. However, be that as it may, I think clarity is a virtue and the organisation prides itself in that. I think it is important for me to put the record straight.

"My understanding of the opposition and its masters' strategy has been to cause confusion within the Government and Zanu-PF by creating rumours and spreading them. When people start dropping names, this feeds into their strategy of rumour-mongering.

"On my part really, I have no association whatsoever with the Makoni group and everything being said is rubbish," Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe said.

One of the news agencies, ZimOnline yesterday claimed that Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe has links with Makoni's bid to oust President Mugabe.

The agency claimed this was the first signal that divisions in the ruling Zanu-PF party might be filtering down to the intelligence service.

Quoting unnamed authoritative sources, ZimOnline claimed the CIO was in the grip of a power struggle between Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe and his deputy Mr Maynard Muzariri.

But the CIO boss said he wondered if the Makoni group had supporters and was convinced it was going around creating perceptions that "so and so supports us".

Makoni has been claiming that some senior people in Government and Zanu-PF support him without naming them.

"In my case and as far as the service (CIO) is concerned, we are a professional service. I was appointed by H.E. President Mugabe. I am serving the President and through him my country.

"I serve one master and the master is the President. The fact that there is no faction which can claim ownership of me means I am doing my job impartially.

"This country has been subjected to a torrent of attacks since 1999 (when Government began steps to institute land reforms) and the service has stood up very well in a united manner.

"We are professional and principled and we will not abandon our task to protect the security of Zimbabwe, national interest and our leader, the President. Basically that is the CIO."

Makoni's handlers have been claiming that they have backers in Zanu-PF and appeared to have been taking advantage of the silence of those said to be backing it.

On Wednesday, President Mugabe told journalists that one of the people said to be backing Makoni, Zanu-PF Politburo member and former army commander Retired General Solomon Mujuru met him on Monday and told him that he was not in any way associated with the Makoni project.

On Monday, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa also denied links with the Makoni group after Dumiso Dabengwa had claimed he was involved in the project.

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