The big Zanu-PF break-in: what's REALLY going on?

2017-06-20 10:00
Emmerson Mnangagwa. (File: AFP)

Emmerson Mnangagwa. (File: AFP)

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Harare - Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi is the latest high-profile member of Zimbabwe's ruling party to have a break-in.

Sekeramayi's apparently palatial home in Borrowdale, Harare was broken into in the early hours of Friday.

Several other Zanu-PF officials have had break-ins in recent years.

Here is a list.

Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo

His offices were broken into last August. Reports said an unknown brown substance was sprinkled on his chair, and that seven other offices of senior officials in Moyo’s higher education ministry were also broken into.

The thieves got away with electrical gadgets and two laptops. In February this year, Moyo told a parliamentary committee that he believed the anti-corruption commission was behind the burglary.

He claimed that information stolen from the ministry was used to build a corruption case against him.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

The vice president, who is also justice minister has had his party and government offices broken into a staggering six times since 2014.

Sensationally, on the eve of his inauguration as vice president, someone broke into his offices at the ruling party’s headquarters and sprinkled a chemical (believed to be cyanide) on his desk.

His secretary had to be hospitalised from exposure to the chemical, but the VP was unharmed.

In the latest break-in in January 2016, the criminals got into his justice ministry office through ceiling panels (the same way they got into Moyo’s offices). Nothing appeared to have been taken.

Women's Affairs Minister Nyasha Chikwinya

Chikwinya had an unlawful entry at her offices at government’s Kaguvi Building in March 2016. Her office doors were tampered with but the intruders didn't manage to get in.

Late chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku

Burglars broke into the late Chief Justice's offices at the Supreme Court in September 2014.

Chidyausiku lost a computer and television set to the thieves. Opposition party the National Constitutional Assembly claimed at the time that the ruling Zanu-PF was behind the break-in "on the mistaken belief by some factional leaders that the office has a role to play in their succession battles."

Transport Minister Obert Mpofu

Just weeks after the cyanide incident at the vice president's office in 2014, burglars got into the Harare offices of Transport Minister Obert Mpofu in January 2015.

Three doors at Mpofu's offices on the 16th floor of government's Kaguvi Building were forced open, and the intruder tried but failed to enter Mpofu's office. Nothing was stolen.

What's going on?

Are these high profile break-ins simply a sign of the (more criminal) times or do they point to something sinister? Analysts can't decide.

There is some speculation that some of the break-ins are linked to the increasingly frenzied jockeying for prime position in Zanu-PF that's going on as Mugabe gets older and frailer.

In Sekeramayi's case, that speculation has been revived.

Law professor and political analyst Alex Magaisa said on Twitter. "You would have to be extremely naïve to believe these "burglars" only came to steal a suit & $620 from Sekeramayi."

Author and academic Miles Tendi wrote: "The intruders wanted to steal a suit? Really? Naughty me ‘guesses’ they entered Sekeramayi’s house in order to install surveillance devices!"

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