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Highest ranking female CIO boss dies

Deputy Director (External) of the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Nothando Thuthani, has died. She was 57 and has been declared a liberation war heroine.  Thuthani died on Wednesday morning at West End Hospital after a short illness. She was the highest ranking woman officer in the CIO.

Deputy Director of the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Nothando Thuthani
Deputy Director of the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Nothando Thuthani

In a statement on Thursday, Minister of State for National Security Sydney Sekeramayi said, “The country and the President’s Department (CIO) have been robbed of a dedicated revolutionary cadre who served her country with distinction, dignity and honour demonstrating unquestionable patriotism and lifelong loyalty to the national cause. She will be greatly missed.”

CIO Director General Retired Major General Happyton Bonyongwe, described Cde Thuthani as a leader of “rare qualities” who defended Zimbabwe’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“While the organisation is at loss, the service is determined to honour a great woman. Allow me to pay tribute to this great woman who was a mother, an intelligence officer, a diplomat, a leader of rare qualities, a politician, a social activist, a human rights defender and a cadre on the front line. She was also a champion of the advancement of gender equality and social justice,” he said.

Thuthani’s death comes hard on the heels of the death of Deputy Director General Menard Muzariri who was declared a national hero. Thuthani was born on July 31 1954 in Marondera. She attended Dombotombo Primary School before enrolling at St Killians for Form Two and did O-Level at Central African Correspondence College in 1974.

In 1975 she left the country for the United Kingdom to do her A-Levels. After that she read for a BA (Honours) degree in Public Administration at Sheffield City Polytechnic.

While abroad, she became conscious of the intensifying struggle and war of independence back home. She became active in student politics in the UK and worked closely with the late national heroes such as David Karimanzira, Witness Mangwende and Sabina Mugabe. The party also relied on her during the Lancaster House talks.

After independence she was attached to the Zanu-PF commissariat. She joined the Ministry of Manpower Planning and Development as an administrative officer. She was attested into the President’s Department in 1983 as a desk officer under the external branch’s evaluation division.

In 1985, she was appointed political staff officer. From 2000 to 2002, she served as a counsellor at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Ethiopia and was later promoted to assistant director in the external branch before being elevated to deputy director, a rank she held until her death. Thuthani served as a member of the National Joint Command for 11 years.

She is survived by two children. Burial arrangements will be announced in due course.