HARARE - Middle and junior-ranking officers of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) have recommended that President Robert Mugabe abandon the idea of postponing presidential elections from 2008 to 2010 saying these plans risk igniting civil war.
The details emerged as the feuding opposition MDC factions vowed to close ranks and fight Mugabe as a united front in a double effort to force him to abandon the “politically contentious plan.”
Intelligence officials interviewed this week said the CIO’s top directors who report directly to the President were buffering this message from reaching “Number 1”.
The CIO officers said several of their colleagues working on the “PP (presidential poll) assignment” had emphasised the need to rejuvenate the ruling party but still maintain the presidential election timetable, which must be held by March 2008.
“We are dyed-in-the-wool intelligence operatives and our mandate is to interact with the lowest members of society and provide feedback as frankly and accurately as possible to our principals,” said one junior officer. “Several of our officers have officially confirmed that there is anger out there over these plans to postpone the elections given the deepening hardships. Generally there is a strong feeling from voters that they will not support Zanu (PF) unless Mugabe retires. The President is however being badly advised by those who report to him directly,” he said, adding that this was the general sentiment among middle and junior ranking CIO officers, who constitute the majority of the 3,000-strong spy agency.
The officials said the “foot soldiers” - or junior and middle rank CIO officers deployed to mingle and interact with the ordinary people - had in the past few months conducted an “intelligence ballot” which supported the theory that “there is an urgent need to reconstitute Zanu (PF) through a new leadership” to enhance its electoral fortunes. They said most of the feedback suggested “Mugabe should be persuaded to go into dignified retirement.”