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By Lebo Nkatazo

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe has demoted another top bodyguard in an ongoing purge against his protectors.

Moses Chihuri, who was Mugabe's second choice bodyguard by virtue of having been next in line to Assistant Commissioner Winston Changara, the former head of the Police Protection Unit (PPU), has been demoted.

The demotion comes months after Changara, Mugabe's loyal aide de camp for years, suffered the same fate. His ouster was unexplained, although there has been claims that he had tried to hit it off with Mugabe's wife, Grace.

Police sources said following Changara's demotion in June this year, Chihuri had taken over in an acting capacity as the head of PPU, and Mugabe's chief protector, only to be demoted without explanation.

The police sources told New that they believed Chihuri had been discarded because of having been privy to Changara's alleged acts of misconduct, but failed to bring it to Mugabe's attention.

"Chihuri has joined Changara at the Commissioner's Pool," said a police source. "His position was taken over by Assistant Commissioner Kwainona. Mugabe just woke up and said he no longer wanted the bodyguard.

"No reasons were given for the demotion which was by word of mouth. But we believe that he is being punished for having sat on information to the effect that Changara was trying to make a pass at the First Lady, Grace Mugabe.

"There are also allegations that he knew that Changara was diverting fuel from the PPU for his private use, but did nothing. Some of the fuel is said to have been recovered at his Marlborough house," said the source.

Sources said Sunday that Mugabe first noted a change in Changara when he started assigning his juniors to guard him when he was in the country, preferring to do so only when Mugabe was going out of Zimbabwe.

Speculation about Mugabe's wife and her affairs is rife on Zimbabwe's rumour mill. There are undenied claims that she dated businessman James Makamba and has been secretly dating a minister.

No comment was immediately available from the President's Office last night.

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