CIO training facility destroyed by suspected arson

The ZIMBABWE State Security Agency Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) training center in the Msasa suburb of Harare along St Patrick’s Road across Chiremba Road from Hatfield was set on fire in a suspected case of politically motivated arson, The NewsHawks reported.

The CIO – the fearsome local spy ring known for its civilian hunting and brutality – is made up of a number of key branches where those in training are eventually deployed upon completion of the course.

Its branches are: internal and external services; counterintelligence; coaching; close the security unit; technical; administration; and another simply known as branch six.

“The IOC training school in Msasa was burnt down,” an intelligence source said. “It houses a training center, a workshop and a fuel depot. It was ravaged by a mysterious fire.”

It comes as IOC co-deputy chief executive Gatsha Mazithulela made a suspicious break-in at his Groombridge home in Harare on Thursday night. Three thieves attempted to raid Mazithulela’s home, but were attacked by her tight security, intelligence sources said.

“There was a break-in at Mazithulela’s house in Groombridge in Harare. Three would-be thieves raided her house, but were repelled by her security team, which has recently been beefed up. One thief was killed in the clashes,” another said an intelligence source. “This is no ordinary theft, this is a manifestation of a larger political issue.”

The sources said the fire at the IOC training school and the robbery attack on Mazithulela’s home must be seen in the context of the upcoming Zanu-PF elective congress later this month and elections general next year.

“The Zanu-PF congress and elections next year have created political tensions and rivalries, so these incidents should not be seen as isolated events, but as part of infighting within Zanu. -PF and state institutions,” another source said.

Mazithulela, who received a scholarship from the president’s office in the 1990s to study abroad at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), which is why he eventually officially joined the IOC, is also currently president. of the National Chemical Authority Weapons Convention, Zimbabwe Chapter.

The training center is located a few meters from the border between Harare Msasa and Hatfield suburbs, along a path that joins the intersection of St Patrick and Chiremba roads. The busy Chiremba Road connects southeast to Epworth from the central business district of Harare through the suburbs of Hillside, Braeside, Cranborne, Queensdale and Chadcombe.

Sources said the burning of the CIO base, which is a major training center for three separate squads of the spy agency, began around 3 p.m. Thursday. Zimbabwe Republic Police said they were investigating the case but had not concluded any leads.

The shock fire at the CIO offices came at a time when another disturbing event had taken place in rank and file circles of state security officers in less than 24 hours.

The man who was shot dead in a burglary at Mazithulela’s Crichton Road residence in Groombridge around Mt Pleasant was from Chitungwiza. The other two suspected thieves fled.

The spy agents at the Msasa training center went through three-month training sessions. The current group started earlier this month. The training is aimed at both newly recruited members and seasoned members who play the role of instructors.

At the Msasa training base which was burnt down, the aspiring CIOs also took courses in workshop mechanics.

Meanwhile, the attempted break-in at Mazithulela’s home made headlines.

Mazithulela was appointed CIO Deputy Chief Executive in 2020 from Nust where he was Pro-Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Business Development.

In November 2020, just months after his appointment, an IOC agent guarding his farm in Matabeleland North pointed a gun at him while intoxicated.

Mazithulela was leaving his farm at Norwood in Umguza around 7 p.m. on November 28 when he observed Earnest Muleya, who was on guard duty at the property, staggering.

Suspecting the 38-year-old was drunk, Mazithulela demanded that Muleya hand over his AK-47 assault rifle he was carrying. Instead of handing over the rifle, Muleya cocked it and pointed it at Mazithulela, who ran and took cover behind his vehicle before rushing to his house where he barricaded himself inside. .

Muleya was transferred to Harare and later died in a mysterious accident.

However, his colleagues say the story that he pointed a gun at Mazithulela was fabricated because he only cocked the gun before disarming it as practice requires.

The intelligence establishment has recently been rocked by controversy as State Security Minister Owen Mudha Ncube was suddenly removed from office and not replaced. Ncube, however, still enjoys state functions and protection.

In addition to being the Chairman of the National Chemical Weapons Convention Authority, Zimbabwe Chapter, Mazithulela is also a senior executive with years of strategy and board-level experience in various research environments. high-tech industry, including large-scale nuclear, chemical and biotechnology. energy sectors.

Among his achievements are the Fogarty Aids International Training and Research Scholarship at Johns Hopkins University in the United States (2004), a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Rockefeller Foundation (1995 to 1998), a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Nottingham and -doctoral student at DuPont Incorporated in the United States.

He received support from the UK-South Africa Science and Technology Research Fund in 1997. His interests extend to current affairs and military strategy.

Mazithulela was born in 1971 and attended high school in Bulawayo. He was among the 270 pioneers of Nust in 1991.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Honours) in Biology and Biochemistry in 1994. He received a Fellowship from the Office of the President – under which the IOC falls – and later a PhD Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study Genetic Engineering at the John Innes Center. United Kingdom.

Mazithulela obtained a doctorate in genetic engineering at the age of 27 and has worked in the United States and the United Kingdom. He obtained a master’s degree in business administration in London.

He also created his own piece of history when he became the first Nust graduate to earn a doctorate in 1998 after accepting a challenge from the institution’s founding Vice-Chancellor, the late Professor Phineas Makhurane.

Additionally, Mazithulela holds an MBA in evaluation of new technologies using real options in financial mathematics.

He was Director of Innovation for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Biochemtek Division, Director of the South African Aids Vaccine Initiative at the South African Medical Research Council and Managing Director of Secure Plan Investment Limited in the UK.

The Zimbabwean technocrat was a board member of the Cape Biotechnology Trust, Anvir Biopharmaceticals (Pty) Ltd and Chairman of Elevation Biotechnology (Pty) Ltd.

He was also Vice Chairman of the National Research Foundation of South Africa, Nuclear Technology Products (Pty) Limited, at the business development consultant of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation.

However, Mazithulela left South Africa under a cloud of controversy. When he returned home, he became one of the most successful farmers in the Matabeleland region.

Before officially joining the IOC, Mazithulela worked for the government as a senior director in the cabinet of then-minister Simon Khaya Moyo, when he was also chairman of Zanu-PF.

Mazithulela was also appointed special adviser to Bulawayo after losing the Zanu-PF primaries in Bulawayo.

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