ZANU PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman Philip Chiyangwa and several other high-profile individuals whose whereabouts have been shrouded in mystery this week are sai
d to be in the custody of state security agents who are investigating charges of espionage.
Intelligence sources said yesterday that Chiyangwa, Zanu PF deputy security chief Kenny Karidza, ruling party external affairs director Itai Marchi, and a number of others were currently in detention on allegations of “spying for hostile governments”.
Zimbabwe’s new ambassador to Mozambique and former Consul-General in South Africa Godfrey Dzvairo and Metropolitan Bank secretary Tendai Matambanadzo are also said to have been picked up in related investigations.
However, speculation that Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde was also under arrest proved untrue.
“I was never arrested. What for? Maybe it’s wishful thinking by some people,” Kaukonde said amidst laughter.
Those believed to be detained went missing last week. Chiyangwa’s relatives and lawyers have said he is “fine” and “dealing with the situation”.
Chiyangwa’s brother James ‘Jimalo’ said this week he was “all right”.
“Philip is okay. I was with him this (Tuesday) afternoon. I’m his brother and I know he’s fine,” James said. “If there was anything wrong, I would be the first to know and to run around. He is alive and well.”
Asked where actually Chiyangwa was, James said: “I wouldn’t know where he is at the moment because he has several houses. Would you know where your brother is right now if I were to ask you?”
Told yesterday Chiyangwa was still unreachable on his cellphone, James said: “He is a politician and it’s not easy to find him.” Chiyangwa’s nephew Leo Mugabe, who is also President Robert Mugabe’s nephew, said he did not know where his uncle was.
“I don’t know but we will ask during tomorrow’s (yesterday’s) provincial executive meeting what is really happening. Then I will be able to give you a precise answer.” However, after yesterday’s meeting Mugabe said nothing was dis-closed about Chiyangwa’s whereabouts.
Matambanadzo was abducted from his Chisipite home last week on Monday night and has been held incommunicado like the others, the Zimbabwe Independent has been told.
Sources said the arrests followed the picking up by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) of Karidza at Harare International Airport early last week after a stakeout.
“They had been tailing him for sometime,” a source said. “That led to his arrest and subsequent picking up of the other suspects.”
It is said Karidza, a music promoter whose bid to bring French-based rumba artist Kofi Olomide for a concert in Zimbabwe flopped last week due to his arrest, was under surveillance to ascertain if he was a double agent.
“Karidza was arrested at the airport with classified documents containing information which has state security implications,” the source said.
The sources said the suspects have cracked under interrogation after being “softened up” to facilitate investigations and were now “cooperating”.
The sources said the suspects, including intelligence agents, were picked up by the CIO’s Counter-Intelligence Unit. Counter-Intelligence then handed them over to the CIO’s Security Branch which is now handling the matter.
The security section deals with issues with state security implications. It includes the Close Security Unit and the Government Protection Security Inspectorate.
The suspects were said to be in detention at different police stations around Harare.
“After the CIO have finished their job the suspects will be handed over to the police’s (CID) Law and Order section for initial court remand,” a source said.
“The matter is serious because it has treason implications and touches on some senior intelligence officers, ministers and top Zanu PF officials.”
Contacted for comment, State Security minister Nicholas Goche said: “I know nothing about that. Totally nothing.” Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi also professed ignorance.