Former Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Botswana and current vice president, Phelekezele Mphoko was part of a Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) project spying in Botswana ÔÇô it has been claimed. Revelations that Mphoko was part of the Zimbabwean spy network in Botswana has emerged in the ensuing power struggle to succeed the aging Robert Mugabe as president. As part of a strategy to malign Mphoko in the race to succeed Mugabe, the former Zimbabwean High Commissioner is being accused of being part of the Mthwakazi secessionist campaign. The Mthwakazi is an Ndebele group which is campaigning for self determination from the Shona led Zimbababwean government claiming oppression and ethnic cleansing by the Mugabe administration. The group cites the infamous Gukurahundi genocide as part of the Mugabe administration to get rid on the Ndebele tribe. Mphoko’s apologists however insist that the former High Commissioner to Botswana could not be a part of the Mthwakazi group because while in Gaborone, he infiltrated and destabilized the group in Botswana as part of a project masterminded by the Zimbabwean spy agency the CIO and President Mugabe. The Mthwakazi claims against Mphoko, however, seem to be working. The New Zimbabwean quoted a source this week claiming that, “we understand the strategy is working and that Mphoko is now being excluded from presidium meetings, only getting informed about what would have happened after the event.” The newspaper also quoted a senior journalist familiar with intelligence services’ infiltration and destabilisation of the Mthwakazi group dismissing suggestions Mphoko was part of the campaign. “It’s beyond ridiculous to suggest Mphoko is Mthwakazi,” said the journalist. “It’s a charge that won’t stick because Mphoko is the reason Mthwakazi is now a lost cause.” “In his previous brief as ambassador to Botswana, Mphoko actually infiltrated and destabilised that group as part of a project by the CIO and Mugabe would have been aware of his role. “There is no way, therefore, that Mugabe can be persuaded that Mphoko is part of Mthwakazi.” The latest claims against Mphoko suggest a trend that Zimbabwean Ambassadors are part of the country’s spy network. The Sunday Standard has in the past carried a story about a Canadian citizen, Andrew Sanderson who was a double agent for the Botswana and Zimbabwean spy networks. His CIO handler was the then Zimbabwean Ambassador in Namibia Chipo Zidonga.