Botswana has denied reports that Zimbabwean spies have infiltrated the Botswana system and at least one of them has even had audience with President Ian Khama.
Sunday Standard investigations have, however, turned up information that one Ezekiel Mpande, a suspected Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) spy, rose to the top of Zimbabwean refugee leadership in Botswana where he mingled with some Botswana government officials and even had an audience with President Khama when the president visited Francistown.
Mpande, who was allegedly apprehended with the help of Zimbabwean refugees at Dukwi, was allegedly caught with a sketch plan of the refugee camp, road maps of the camp and plans of some buildings in the camp.
After his arrest, the suspected spy was detained at the Francistown Centre for illegal immigrants and later deported to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean refugees in Dukwi complain that now Zimbabwean security agents have started harassing their relatives who are still in Zimbabwe, while some have allegedly disappeared mysteriously. The refugees claim that the pattern of harassment suggests that Mpande may be using the information he gathered from the camp and fingering their relatives to Zimbabwean security agents.
The refugees have also raised concerns about several Zimbabwean women married to asylum seekers from other countries like Angola and Namibia who enjoy free and frequent visits to and from Zimbabwe. They suspect that these refugees, some of whom are married to Zimbabwean nationals, might be passing information about the goings on at the camp to Zimbabwean authorities since refugees from other countries can enter and depart from Zimbabwe legally.
An officer at the Ministry of Justice Defense and Security, Ross Sanoto, denied any knowledge of complaints from the Dukwi refugee camp. He also denied any knowledge of any individual who was arrested and later deported on suspicions of spying.
The CIO agents operating in Botswana are believed to be behind recent allegations that Botswana is providing military training to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) agents.
Zimbabwe last week sent a team of investigators to Botswana to probe an alleged plot of banditry involving Botswana authorities and opposition MDC activists.
The investigation into claimed acts of destabilization has so far failed to raise any evidence.
The investigation team is led by Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs permanent secretary, Joey Bimha, including other Foreign Affairs officials and state security officers. It is understood that a group of MDC activists were recently arrested and allegedly coerced to admit training and recorded in the process in a bid to create evidence for the trumped-up charges. A source was quoted in the Zimbabwean media saying that “the whole plot is similar to the charges against Joshua Nkomo and PF Zapu officials such as Dumiso Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku (in the early 1980s). It is also similar to cases involving Ndabaningi Sithole and (MDC leader) Morgan Tsvangirai.”
Government has since 1980 been making similar allegations, arresting and torturing the accused, but later failing to prove its claims. ┬á
Outgoing Zimbabwean Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, recently accused Tsvangirai of trying to be like the late notorious Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi and his Unita movement.
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