Published in The Mail on Sunday (July 21st, 2013)
Damning top-secret intelligence documents that expose Robert Mugabe’s plans to rig the forthcoming election in Zimbabwe and crush his political rivals have been handed to The Mail on Sunday.
The dossier reveals in astonishing detail how Mugabe is plotting to steal millions of votes with massive and systematic ballot-rigging combined with widespread intimidation by party thugs.
His tactics, along with details of massive funding from named British, Chinese and African backers, are disclosed in highly confidential papers written for his closest aides.
They were obtained from intelligence sources who risked their lives to expose the covert campaign to keep 89-year-old Mugabe and his brutal military cabal in power.
The documents explain how ‘unfavourable voting outcomes’ for the ruling Zanu-PF party will be ‘countered’ for a multi-million-pound fee to an Israeli company that has been helping the dictator for a decade.
They also show how Mugabe’s desperate bid to retain power in the nation he has ravaged during 33 years of repressive misrule is being aided by the Chinese government, fellow African dictators and secretive diamond mining firms.
Ominously, the leaked papers reveal the recruitment of armed militia and talk of the need for ‘disciplinary action to enemy leaders,’ saying the use of ‘absolute neutralisation of the enemy…is recommended when necessary.’
Peter Hain, the former Africa minister and campaigner against blood diamonds, said: ‘This confirms our worst fears about democracy being prostituted in Zimbabwe.’
The South African-raised MP added: ‘The Government and EU cannot turn a blind eye to such abuses when democracy is being destroyed and the opposition muted in such a manner.’
The documents, prepared for the head of Zimbabwe’s highly feared Central Intelligence Organisation and the Joint Operational Command (JOC), the body that oversees state security, contain a number of alarming disclosures.
- Nikuv International Projects, an Israeli firm, is being paid $13 million (£8.5 million) to manipulate voter registration, counter ‘unfavourable’ results and ‘neutralise’ opposition votes.
- The Chinese government is helping with ballot rigging, advising on voter intimidation and providing jamming equipment to silence independent radio stations.
- Already, 45,534 youths have been trained and deployed across the country in armed militia to ‘stem resistance’, with another 7,343 undergoing training and ‘mass reorientation classes’ to be ready three days before polling.
- Security forces are adamant that six Zanu-PF moderates ‘must be STOPPED’ from standing. One of the named politicians, Edward Chindori-Chininga, died last month in a suspicious car crash. His family say it was an assassination.
- Funding for the covert campaign is coming from controversial diamond companies, the presidents of two African countries and prominent business figures from Britain, China and Zimbabwe.
- Millions of dollars are being directed towards leaders of southern African countries providing independent election monitors to ‘drum up support for poll credibility before, during and after elections’.
The Mail on Sunday was passed the dossier by intelligence figures frustrated with the barbarity and rigid discipline of Mugabe’s Marxist-influenced regime. ‘There are lots of us who hate the way things are done by the old guard,’ said one.
This source, a senior official among the estimated 300,000 spies in Zimbabwe, was clearly nervous when we met in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. Security forces are caught up in factional feuding among the generals and politicians plotting to succeed Mugabe.
The election in ten days’ time is Mugabe’s last roll of the dice after three decades in power during which time his regime has wrecked the economy, ruined key public services, helped halve life expectancy and driven about one in six Zimbabweans into exile.
The previous poll in 2008 was held against an appalling backdrop of poverty and starvation caused by the second-worst case of hyper-inflation in history, peaking at 231 million per cent. Shops had no food, hospitals closed and Aids was rife.
The opposition Movement For Democratic Change won by 20 per cent. But after Mugabe’s goons started to slaughter their rivals, foreign diplomats forced the creation of an uncomfortable coalition with the despot back as president and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister. After introducing the dollar as currency, the economy stabilised – yet close to nine in ten people remain unemployed.
The leaked papers show a clear strategy led by security forces in alliance with the Chinese communist party and Nikuv to ‘neutralise hostile votes in urban areas’ where MDC support is highest.
Among the tactics are under-registering voters aged under 35 and over-registering older people, who are more likely to vote for Mugabe. They also discuss ‘parallel registration through party offices with strict advice from Nikuv International for statistical manoeuvring’.
Reports released last week by independent monitors confirmed the scale of Zanu-PF’s electoral corruption. In a country with a population of fewer than 13 million people, and an average life expectancy of 51, there were found to be 900,000 duplicate entries on the register, including 109,000 people aged over 100. ‘There might be five centenarians at best,’ one doctor confided.
Two million young people remain unregistered. The leaked documents disclose the electoral commission has orders to register fewer than ten people per day in some areas.
The dossier underlines both the need for, and effectiveness of, such tactics. In one region, they reveal Zanu-PF membership has fallen ten per cent since the last election.
Another section, written at the start of last month, discusses Mugabe’s electoral prospects in different parts of the country. It says: ‘Records, reconnaissance and collaborated intelligence show that Midlands Province alone has the potential of producing 450,000 votes by July end.
‘Mashonaland Central and West can produce a total of 1.2 million votes over and above already recorded friendly votes.’
It adds: ‘Intelligence officers will take a lead role in party structures to set housing schemes, re-orient the beneficiaries and populate them on the voters roll through party offices and Nikuv International Projects.’
Nikuv did not return calls or emails about its activities in Zimbabwe. However, a spokesman was quoted by a South African paper earlier this month saying it was a legitimate and professional company: ‘We have never been involved in any politics, not now or ever.’ It also pointed out it had no control over the electoral roll.
The security files show the generals tightening their grip on Zanu-PF, helping security staff defeat civilian candidates ‘whose indiscipline cost the party’. Yet they also reveal the regime meeting opposition from civilian supporters – although it’s said that ‘re-orientation through mass mobilisation and covert coercion has achieved results’.
One document chillingly headed ‘Operation Return To Zanu-PF’ says there is an urgent need for mass recruitment of youths under armed leaders to ‘stem resistance’.
The dossier lists the numbers already recruited in each region and the name of the top military officer in charge, saying deployments of trained gangs will ‘direct enemy neutralisation’.
The leak also underlines the close links between China and Zimbabwe following previous reports of diamonds and gold being exchanged for arms by Chinese dealers.
There are reports on nine trips out of the country in just six weeks earlier this year by named individuals moving huge quantities of diamonds and money between Zimbabwe, Angola, Dubai and China.
The dossier also shows that military chiefs attending an election meeting at an airbase last month were told of payments of tens of millions of dollars from Joseph Kabila, the Congolese president, and Teodoro Obiang, corrupt ruler of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
As the election gets closer, violence and intimidation are increasing, with opposition activists coming under attack from Mugabe supporters. Mugabe has stepped up the use of forced attendance at party rallies and state patronage.
There are plans to make villagers in rural areas attend pungwes – all-night indoctrination meetings used in the liberation war to incite supporters – three days before voting.
Security officials are also setting up hundreds of party bases – rooms used to torture Zimbabweans who refuse to give in to their pressure.
Yet the documents show a third of Mugabe’s election fund is being spent on ‘regional diplomacy’ to ensure a clean bill of health from the Southern African Development Community, the 14 nations whose observers are monitoring the election.