The nonagenarian chose the burial of one of the top bosses of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Zenzo Ntuliki, in Harare yesterday to remind Zimbabweans about the key role that spooks have played in the country’s body politic.
“Isu zvatiri pano hatingomhanyemhanye tichingodauka dauka zvisiri mugwara rinoonekwa nevaongorori vedu, nyanzvi dzedu dzine maziso, nzeve neruzivo rwekuti apa pakaipa, apa pane nyoka … musafambe nepo pane nyoka mungarumwe (I always make my moves with advice from the CIO which warns me about my enemies),” Mugabe told mourners gathered at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.
“Saka tinopihwa nyanzvi dzine maziso anooona zviri kure kure nenzeve dzinonzwa zvinonyeyewa. Ndiko kurarama kwedu (The intelligence operatives who work with me are top drawer spooks who can sniff out any threats well ahead),” he added.
Listed under the President’s Office, the CIO has previously been accused of perpetuating Mugabe’s long rule through thuggish methods, as well as destabilising the opposition.
Apart from being accused of abetting and aiding Mugabe and Zanu PF, the agency has also been fingered in gross human rights violations, especially against Mugabe’s perceived political opponents.
“The fact that he (Zenzo) is being laid here is a demonstration that he was a comrade, a comrade at arms.
“Self sacrifice was one of Ntuliki’s strongest attributes … sacrifice did not mean just going out and joining the other comrade. It meant that at heart, in your own mind as a comrade you were truly decided, come what may to fight for the country,” Mugabe said.
Ntuliki, who was in charge of the CIO in the Western region at the time of his death, once served as the late former Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s aide.
Mugabe described him as a dedicated cadre who was unwavering in his desire to ensure the country’s security from both internal and external enemies.
“We must be united and help each other and that is what Ntuliki fought for. Those who lie here and others who are still in our security services, they are the defenders of our lives, defenders of the joy we have to be defended against disturbers of that joy.
“That is what we call defence forces … the uniforms they put on are not just for decoration. Have you ever asked why they put on that uniform? They will tell you it’s not meant to beautify them,” he added.
Mugabe, the only leader that Zimbabweans have ever known since the country gained its independence from Britain in 1980, is facing the biggest threat to his long rule as the economy continues to tank.
The nonagenarian, apart from having to contend with increasing unrest among the long-suffering populace and the dying economy, is also struggling to keep together his deeply-divided ruling Zanu PF.
The party’s deadly ructions have escalated in recent weeks, with observers saying Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF’s thorny succession riddle is fuelling the infighting.
The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate; to choose a person of their own choice.