IT was a stern Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Minister of State Security, who looked at Ken Flower in the eye and told him that Robert Mugabe, “the Prime Minister wishes you to know that the Commissioner of Police has reported to him that you have been spending much of your time recently trying to murder him”.
Ken Flower did not deny the allegations, feigning fear; he all but confessed and asked whether he was supposed to defend himself or justify the murderous intentions before the PM. A dramatically quivering spy boss disclosed that even men of the Special Branch of the police that the Commissioner led were part of the bloody plot. After confiding that the Prime Minister intended to do nothing about the allegations, Mnangagwa loudly wondered why whites and fellow Rhodies would so readily sell each other out like that.
A week after this tense and tricky meeting of the 25th of May 1980, Robert Mugabe and Ken Flower met eye ball to eye ball. Chuckling, Mugabe assured Flower that the Police Commissioner was a simple police informer who was not to be taken seriously. What Mugabe did not tell Ken Flower was that he had thanked the Commissioner of Police for the valuable intelligence and promised to act on it in his own way. Mugabe laughed away Ken Flower’s intentions to confess details about the plans to kill him. Bigger things were at issue.
From Ken Flower, Robert Mugabe asked for a special relationship that would allow the two of them to work generally but also do some work in interpersonal confidence, where Flower could convey some information directly to Mugabe not via the Minister of State Security. Ken Flower was the Director General of the Central Intelligence Organisation a position he held from the formation of the organisation in 1963.
Allum Peter Kevin, the snitching Commissioner of the police, was a relic of the Rhodesian security apparatus too. Not only these two Rhodesian securocrats were retained by the Robert Mugabe regime; a multiplicity of middle and lower rank spies, police and some soldiers were also kept; apparently to maintain standards and secure professionalism in the force.
Rhodie securocrats: Air Marshal Archie Wilson; head of the CIO, Ken Flower; Air Vice Marshal
Mick McLaren; Army Commander Lt-Gen Keith Coster; and Police Commissioner James Spink
The Rhodesian securocrats so badly needed employment as they could not get it elsewhere in the world, they were not trained for regular security and military operations but for the purposes of crushing so-called terrorists, dirty tricks and brutality were their stock in trade. No democratic country in the world could employ them. The dangerous Rhodesian security relics were kept at great expense as they were paid in hefty expatriate rates.
Evidence partly from the writings of Peter Stiff, Ibbo Mandaza, Miles Tendi and others points to that Ken Flower was a double agent who reported both to the MI6 and to the Rhodesian regime. Whether he retired from his double agency when he started reporting to the Robert Mugabe regime cannot be confirmed, the wise guess is that he simply became a triple agent. Some sources link him to the formation of RENAMO in Mozambique.
As cited by Ibbo Mandaza in an enriching article that I engage below, Sydney Sekeramayi was reported on the Herald of the 24th of April 2013 saying that the British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) officially left Zimbabwe in 2001. The military and intelligence relations between the Mugabe regime and the British establishment only soured and froze only in the year 2000. Neatly, the Robert Mugabe regime inherited not only Rhodesian security laws but also securocrats and security and insecurity expertise that were embodied by individual Rhodies and Britons.
I begin this article with this curious history of Zimbabwean securocracy because from all appearances, 2017 is the year when the security and insecurity monster that Robert Mugabe built will, for better and for worse, become visible. The proverbial “Mugabe way” will this year dangle out as the monster decomposes and splinters into feuding organs. This curious history is also important as it also illuminates the complicity of the British in the Gukurahundi genocide and other human rights violations in Zimbabwe after 1980.
The unholy relationship between Mugabe and the British political underworld is much under-researched. Further, the way Mugabe used the Commissioner of Police against the Director General of Intelligence and managed to secure both their ‘loyalty’ and eventually to use them to dispense with ZAPU and ZIPRA may help us to read the political events of the here and now in Zimbabwe.
The monster that I refer to here is a security and insecurity organism that was built to carry out a genocide, whose footprints would later be found after the ashes of senior army generals, the disappearance of solitary activists, assassination of opponent politicians or the murder of their children to dispirit them. This monstrosity will eventually lead to the implosion of what has become the state, party and nation summarised in one very old body of one man.
The unmaking, unbecoming and decomposition of this monster, from the look of present things, will not be as neat and as stealth as its making that was the work of true evil art. The decomposition of living and working organisms is almost always an ugly and smelly business.
But before I explore the present condition of the monstrous securocratic condition of Zimbabwe, it is important to reflect on the historical conditions that produced the Gukurahundi genocide, a crime against humanity that will gain new importance in Zimbabwe this year as parties, individuals and factions will invoke it while others will seek to silence and erase it from public discourse out of fear and guilt.
The Chapter that Refuses to Close
The late Joshua Nkomo
Three toxic forces contributed to the political and historical climate that produced the Gukurahundi genocide. Dangerous Rhodesian and British securocrats trained in dirty warfare badly needed employment and a home in Zimbabwe after the dethronement of the Ian Smith regime. After the Lancaster House negotiated political settlement the British establishment wanted a political and economic environment in Zimbabwe where capitalism could thrive and British economic interests could be secured.
Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF were desperate to get rid of Joshua Nkomo, ZAPU and the dreaded ZIPRA armed wing. This unholy political trinity put Joshua Nkomo, ZAPU and ZIPRA literary on the menu. Gukurahundi became both a systemic and systematic crime, the ZIPRA records that were seized by Emmerson Mnangagwa were mathematically used to trace families of ZIPRA cadres that were then methodically punished by death at most and other forms of pain at least.
Ken Flower discloses that Emmerson Mnangagwa asked him to continue working as he did for the Rhodesian regime and promised to provide political cover for whatever his did. On record the North Koreans provided training for the Fifth Brigade, which was not really a brigade but a crack unit that was specifically trained for large scale massacres. Off the record, the British provided financial support, weapons and on the ground experts who provided advice and direction.
The Rhodesian and British securocrats that directed the operations and that Emmerson Mnangagwa relied on were assassins, torturers and experts in biological warfare and dirty war. Now that they are gone, Emmerson Mnangagwa remains behind desperately trying to close a bloody chapter that cannot be closed. Even the attempt to settle trusted intelligence officials in commercial farms where there are mass graves in Matabeleland is not enough.
Tragically, even a scholar with respect for evidence such as Blessing-Miles Tendi could write on the 3rd of May 2012 that “there has never been genocide in Zimbabwe”. The Gukurahundi genocide began and happened as a crime of fear and hatred, it now continues as a crime of guilt and denialism, politically and intellectually. Out of guilt and denialism, remaining perpetrators of the genocide are prepared to kill more multitudes.
A Keyhole Perspective
After “interviews with senior intelligence operatives, high ranking military officers and members of the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions” Blessing-Miles Tendi published an important article in the African Affairs journal. For the calibre of the interviewees that included Emmerson Mnangagwa, Joice Mujuru, other senior politicians and some unnamed ‘key planners’ in the ZANU-PF factional fights, Tendi’s article is a rich contribution.
Titled “State Intelligence and the Politics of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Succession” the article provides a keyhole view into the battles for power inside ZANU-PF, the military and intelligence sectors. We learn from Tendi that Joice Mujuru was fired on the basis of an intelligence dossier given to Mugabe by the Mnangagwa-aligned Military Intelligence.
In contrast, a section of the Central Intelligence Organisation also produced another dossier that sought to prop up Joice Mujuru and demean Mnangagwa but Mugabe was inclined to the MI report because of the long ranging suspicion he held of the late Solomon Mujuru, whose death in 2011 was, from Tendi’s sources, a political assassination.
While intelligence officers from the Rhodesian regime and ZANLA were integrated into the Zimbabwean security sector, those from ZIPRA, Tendi notes, were marginalised in fear that they would pass on information to Dumiso Dabengwa and Swazini Ndlovu, ZAPU intelligence leaders.
Importantly, Tendi also records how corruption has set in and intelligence officials have been reduced, presently, to runners in the making of money by the Chefs. Another explosive expose from Tendi is that phones are bugged in Zimbabwe and Military Intelligence details have imported from Kazakhstan, special slow poisons that can degenerate a victim’s body over a period of 2 to 3 years, making their death look like demise from common disease.
While Robert Mugabe himself in 2013 publicly thanked Jonathan Moyo for masterminding the much unexpected electoral victory of ZANU-PF, interestingly, Blessing-Miles Tendi’s research identifies Mnangagwa, war veterans, Jabulani Sibanda, Constantine Chiwenga and other mandarins as the forces behind the political victory that shocked the world. Clearly, what Blessing-Miles Tendi has provided is but part of the picture of the political and security monster that has been behind Robert Mugabe and that is degenerating towards a cataclysmic implosion in 2017.
Effectively, Tendi has exposed the dangerous and dirty insecurity tricks that sections of the intelligence in Zimbabwe are equipped for and are capable of, but his belief that there was never a genocide in Zimbabwe has prevented his otherwise good study from unmasking how the Gukurahundi genocide became a school where black Zimbabweans securocrats were taught by Rhodesian and British renegades murderous and genocidal politics of mass murder, assassinations and poisoning. The Gukurahundi genocide became a site where hired foreign mass murderers produced for Zimbabwe the security sector that continues to dog the country with political violence.
A Political Economy Perspective
Ibbo Mandaza advances a picture where the continuity of the colonial state, colonial politics and securocracy in Zimbabwe has produced ZANU-PF into a state and political party rolled in one, and where Robert Mugabe has not escaped the “Big Man” and “life presidency” syndrome that comes with the politics of patronage and corruption. In such a scenario, violence and the threat of it are turned into the commonsense of politics and life
Instead of Zimbabwe transforming from its colonial condition to a democratic and developmental dispensation, Mandaza notes, the country only transitioned to a similar if not worse condition. A class of individuals now relies on the party/state for income and huge profits, behind the rhetoric of indigenisation and resource nationalism looting and primitive accumulation to thrive.
In the present securocratic condition of Zimbabwe, a condition that is degenerating, national interest and national security actually mean regime interest and regime security. The article “The Political Economy of the State in Zimbabwe: The Rise and of the Securocrat State” by Ibbo Mandaza is one good New Year’s read for anyone who wishes to sense where the present state of security decline and degeneration is taking Zimbabwe.
The Clash of Political Paradigms
Our fascination with factions and factional fights in ZANU-PF has concealed rather than revealed exactly what is happening in Zimbabwe. The G40 and the Lacoste have become vivid metaphors that hide the nature of the struggle that is playing out even within the opposition political parties and civil society. There is a section of Zimbabweans that has come to believe in war as the natural state of affairs and peaceful resolution of political conflicts as temporary. A blind Rambo culture of war as life has found traction; thinking and dialoguing are being expelled from common sense.
Gukurahundi as an ideology has assumed the status of a political paradigm. G40 and Lacoste as metaphors of political paradigms are present in the opposition, the media and academia. The security forces, uniformed and otherwise are also torn asunder between those who deny Gukurahundi genocide and purvey the Gukurahundi ideology and those who believe that political contests can be conducted in bloodless competition. Fifth Brigadiers, civilian and military, learnt of politics as war and death from Rhodesian and British renegade securocrats and are not prepared to unlearn that paradigm.
On the other hand, throughout Zimbabwe, well beyond ZANU-PF, a generation has arisen that is disgusted by the history of genocide and political violence and demands an end to the Gukurahundi paradigm. Within ZANU-PF, Robert Mugabe who has learnt to play individuals and groups against each other, from the Rhodesian and British renegades to the present securocrats, while keeping their support and loyalty is now playing a tricky game of juggling that approaches an explosion in 2017.
In one of his writings Blessing-Miles Tendi wonders why the British are obsessed with Mugabe and the question of “what went wrong” with him. The answer is that at some point Mugabe was a British insider who held the promise for the endurance of British interests in Zimbabwe, for the trouble they helped him dispense with Nkomo and they gave him a Knighthood in 1994, but when he thought he could kill white commercial farmers and that the British would look away he blundered. When the British and the Americans accuse Mugabe of genocide they accuse him of a crime that they have full inside knowledge of. Their fingerprints might not be on the crime scene but the footprint of their money, skills and weapons is prominently there.
Solomon Mujuru’s Ghost
The late Solomon Mujuru
Curiously, as revealed in both Ibbo Mandaza and Blessing-Miles Tendi’s papers, most of the senior securocrats that Robert Mugabe is supposed to rely on are or have been Solomon Mujuru’s mentees. In understandable distrust, Robert Mugabe has had to create many other different intelligence gathering groups, well beyond the MI and CIO divide that Tendi so ably exposes.
With the retreat of the British and the fading away of the Rhodesians, Robert Mugabe has relied on contracting, at huge expense, foreign private security companies. The Chinese have also contributed their experts. As a result, Zimbabwe is full of many security groups composed of dangerous individuals, some local, others foreign and many of them are double and triple timing agents who report to many different authorities.
A many handed and many headed securocratic monster roams Zimbabwe today and Robert Mugabe himself is fast losing control. Robert Mugabe’s distrust and even fear of Solomon Mujuru led him to creating many intelligence and counter-intelligence groups that are now impossible to control, and, worse, these are hordes of young men and women who have been taught the taste of human blood, the art of killing for money and power. As Robert Mugabe naturally degenerates physically, this securocratic monstrosity will increasingly gain a life of its own and God help Zimbabwe!
In one of the terse letters that Joshua Nkomo wrote to Robert Mugabe from exile he said “you do not teach young people to be contemptuous of human life and expect them to respect your own”. Sadly, there are so many spooks on the loose in Zimbabwe who are prepared to abduct people, shoot and burn them, kill their children, and administer tablets that simulate symptoms of AIDS and cancer all for money and political patronage. On the pay-roll of the establishment are many Ari Ben Menashe types and other dodgy characters with their own dangerous agendas, creating in Zimbabwe fertile ground for a bloody civil war.
The Year of the Monster
The much-anticipated 2018 election in Zimbabwe is too far. In any case, a simple lottery of votes cannot account for the political problem in Zimbabwe, a problem of political culture and decline of human values. That Robert Mugabe each day wakes up with his spring and stride is now either God’s grace or his punishment. Zimbabwe is approaching a security situation where one day the spies, police, soldiers and other security groupings including the mercenaries will wake up not knowing where they must report. The seemingly peaceful and stoic Zimbabwean population is not in peace, it is only silent, and the riots of late mid-2016 were a proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Early 2017 is the time for sober Zimbabweans beyond narrow party lines to look each other in the eye and selflessly seek an urgent solution to the degenerated human and national security condition. The Fifth-brigadiaring of us the so-called analysts, commentators and intellectuals who purvey triumphalism, denialism and trumpet falsehoods and easy victories of our parties and leaders is more dangerous than the diggers of mass graves, carriers of poison tablets and the arsonists.
At long last, national security and human security should come before party and regime security that brought us to this mess in the first place. Failure to do this, a few brave Zimbabweans might have, as a last resort, to come together and build a bigger monster than the present evil organism; remove all the present captains of the monstrosity by any means necessary, and construct a benevolent but forceful regime that will restore Zimbabwe to normalcy and secure lives.
Dinizulu Mbikokayise Macaphulana is South Africa based Zimbabwean Political Scientist and Semiotician: email@example.com.