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President Robert Mugabe stays in power because of an intricate web of strategists and informers.

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe has managed to stay in power because of an intricate web of strategists and informers that he pits against one another for his own benefit, Senior party members revealed to The Zimbabwean this week.

The astute leader did not rely on a core team of advisors but surrounded himself with a broad group of people in order to get as much information as he can before making his decisions, they said.

“There are several layers of clandestine strategists, informers and advisors. He tasks them to do similar and different jobs simultaneously and carefully sieves through their verbal and written reports before making a decision.
President Robert Mugabe
“Each layer is not aware of the others. Depending on the sensitivity of what he wants, the president can dispatch as many as six teams or core resource persons to investigate and research on something. Mostly, if not always, these teams or individuals are not aware of what the others would be doing,” said one of the high ranking sources.

Sending many people unknown to one another to carry out a single task gives Mugabe space to make an informed and strategic decision, he added. The teams are formed from his close security unit, national intelligence, political experts, staff from the office of the president and cabinet, the securocrats, parastatals, party officials and sometimes relatives and colleagues who are not active members in Zanu (PF) or employees of government.

Once in a while, Mugabe also sought help from trusted non-Zimbabweans who are experts in different fields, but he always took care to ensure there was at least one counterintelligence team or individual to ensure that he was not misled.

“President Mugabe often tells his sources that they have lied to him and proceeds to point out things that he would not have known on his own. But there are also cases when he deliberately accepts misrepresentations for as long as they serve his own interests,” said another senior party member.

In other cases, he pretends he is not aware of what some party members are plotting, waiting for an opportune moment to reveal the secret.

However, despite this reliance on clandestine informants and advisors, Mugabe has missed it in many cases. It would be expected that the numerous layers of strategists, sources and advisors would guarantee that he gets accurate information all the time.

“His advisors have come to know what he expects and they are not too keen to anger him by telling him the truth. In that case, they panel beat their reports to suit with what he expects. A good example is the elections between 2000 and 2008. Many of them knew that the tide had turned against him but they were too scared to tell that he was no longer popular. As a result, they would always report to him that the people were still with him,” said the source.

While the informants and advisors are aware that there are counter missions in the tasks they are given by the president, they have largely failed to identify the faces behind them, said the sources.

As a result, they proceed cautiously and do not know who to trust or confide in. This uncertainty has forced them to tell Mugabe what he wants to hear in order to secure their positions and interests.

“He knows of the crimes and other shenanigans that all the key members of the party might be guilty of, courtesy of his web of informants,” said one source.

Mugabe has publicly claimed that he was all along aware of Joice Mujuru’s plans to take over power from him. He has used factional fights in his party to maintain a hold on power.

In 2004, he made Mujuru his deputy after changing the constitution when her faction then led by her husband, Solomon, informed him about the clandestine Tsholotsho meeting to strategise on how Emmerson Mnangagwa could succeed him.

Ten years later, in 2014, he changed his favour to the Mnangagwa faction, which claimed that Mujuru was out to topple him. Analysts say Mugabe might be telling the truth that he was aware of Mujuru’s succession plan, or simply saw an opportunity to remain in power by siding with Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwean
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