Sixty-second edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Thu, 03 Jul 2003 21:19:15 +0200)

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Intelligence profile: Zimbabwe


The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favored whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, the nation's first prime minister, has been the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country's political system since independence.


Country name : Republic of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe)
Capital : Harare
Administrative divisions : Zimbabwe has 8 provinces with provincial status; Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands; and 2 cities; Bulawayo, Harare

Military branches:

Zimbabwe National Army, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police (includes Police Support Unit, Paramilitary Police)



Paragraph 160. Functions of Security Services Commission.

  1. The Security Services Commission will exercise its functions in relation to;
    1. The Defence Force
    2. The Police Force
    3. The Prison Service
    4. The Intelligence Service
  1. An Act of Parliament must provide for the functions of the Security Services Commission and the appointment and removal from office of the heads of the Defence Force, the Police Force, the Prison Service and the Intelligence Services provided that the following functions and principles must be enshrined;
    1. to recommend to the National Assembly persons to be appointed to head the various components of the Security Services;
    2. to advise the Government on the remuneration and other benefits and conditions of service of persons employed in the Security Services;
    3. to exercise disciplinary control over persons employed in the Security Services
    4. to ensure that Security Services are impartial and operate in compliance with the law and that under no circumstances Security Services or any of their members perform their duty to the prejudice of any political party;
    5. to make recommendations to the National Assembly to ensure that military spending is not excessive.

I have tried to find information about the security and intelligence services of Zimbabwe but couldn't find detailed info, only bits and pieces in newspapers and reports of various organisations.

The security/intelligence organisations who's name popped up frequently are the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Police Internal Security and Intelligence (PISI) and the Intelligence Unit of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA).

The State Security Minister is in charge of the CIO, which is the most important intelligence agency in Zimbabwe. This organisation was founded by Ken Flower in the 1960's when Zimbabwe was still Rhodesia. It was the civilian counterpart of the military Rhodesian Intelligence Corps. Today the CIO works closely with the police. The police takes care of things when the matter is purely criminal and when politics are involved, CIO will take care of it. Over the last couple of years, the CIO has been widening its scope of operations. The agency now works actively with the ZANU-PF youth organisation which is part of the State-funded training programme of the Ministry of Youth Affairs. They are trained in a network of "youth camps" across the country and in a short time have become a paramilitary extension of the CIO.

Beside the CIO, the police Security Branch and the small military intelligence unit are the other intelligence players these days.

For want of something better, I included a number of quotes about -mainly- the CIO and other organisations that I found on the web.

"Kitty Little insists that Ken Flower, the head of the Rhodesian Central Intelligence Organisation was, or had been, a member of Britain's intelligence section, MI6. She also says that it is now known that MI6 was working to destabilise Rhodesia in order to force the dictatorship swap that Lancaster House was really designed to produce.
According to Dr. Kitty Little's impeccable sources, Ken Flower might qualify for the Guinness Book of Records as the doublest of double agents! While head of Rhodesian Intelligence he was also working for MI6, the KGB, East European Intelligence, the CIA, and a number of African Intelligence networks. He worked with the "D" group of MI6 operatives who, to quote Dr. Little, "did nasty things and had them blamed on Ian Smith".

(source: Zimbabwe News

"In the mid 1970's, in the most closely guarded secret operation of the entire Rhodesian war, the CIO embarked on a programme of chemical and biological warfare. Doctors and chemists from the University of Rhodesia were recruited by the CIO and asked to identify and test a range of chemical and biological agents which could be used in the war against the nationalist guerrillas. By 1975 clinical trials were performed on human guinea pigs at a remote Selous Scout camp at Mount Darwin in northeastern Rhodesia. The CIO provided victims from their detention centres, choosing little-known detainees who had been arrested on various security charges. In the secrecy of the camp, the doctors administered various chemical and biological agents to the prisoners, experimenting with delivery systems and dose levels. The local CIO Special Branch disposed of the bodies in local mine shafts."
"In the late 1970's South Africa helped the CIO -Central Intelligence Organisation- to build a network of informants throughout Rhodesia and trained the 'Selous Scouts', the most vicious of the Rhodie special forces groups."


"Gambo, however, is not your garden variety political operative. He has another job as well. He is the district commander of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Zimbabwe's secret police. And if you want to get any handle on the systematic nature of political violence in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, you need go no further than the guys in the CIO, an outfit that makes the old East German Stasi look like a bunch of funsters."

(source: The Independent, Zimbabwe)

"In March 2000, the Parliament approved the Posts and Telecommunications Bill, establishing a new regulatory board with powers over postal, telephone, radio, television, cellular, and Internet services. The bill grants the government power to monitor communications when "necessary in the interests of national security or the maintenance of law and order." People caught distributing information that violates "state security" face up to two years imprisonment, a fine of 200,000 Zimbabwean dollars (US$5260), or both."

(source: Zimbabwe 2000 country report.

"Against the background of the seriously deteriorating human-rights situation in Zimbabwe, there is increasing evidence of the involvement of formal State agencies such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Police Internal Security and Intelligence (PISI), the Riot Squad, the Support Unit and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA)in the perpetration of gross human-rights violations."
"Regular reports of Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents taking a direct hand in the violence reinforced the perception that the campaign was being led by the highest authorities in government. CIO members made themselves known to a number of victims and were accused of acts of torture, threats and participation in attacks upon MDC members. Members of the CIO were also observed organising the militias and transporting them from one place to another. There were also reports of Police Internal Security and Intelligence (PISI) involvement."

(source: Zimbabwe Watch)


Zimbabwe Watch
Crisis Web
The Independent
The Zimbabwe Situation
CIA World Factbook  


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