ZANU-PF Mashonaland West provincial chair Temba Mliswa took suspected CIA spy Mr Eric Little to meet local government leaders in Hurungwe West in mid-June, according to State media reports being orchestrated by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo who belongs to rival faction led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mliswa is believed to be in the Mujuru faction.
During the tour he allegedly told constituents to stop saying “pamberi neZanu”, and that they should embrace the Americans “for their money”.
Prior to the latest revelations, Mliswa was on record denying he got funding from the US Embassy in Harare, but also said he saw nothing wrong with accepting such money.
Then yesterday Mliswa confirmed he took Mr Little and other American officials around Hurungwe, but denied receiving any money from them.
When asked who had initiated the contact, Mliswa contradicted himself; first saying he invited Mr Little to Hurungwe, and then saying American officials had called him after getting his number from an unnamed “colleague”.
He accused Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo of being the “real CIA spy”, saying the Government spokesperson was behind this story.
Mliswa then changed tact and said he knew Mr Little was an American spy and he was “setting him up”. He did not say what he was setting Mr Little up for.
Mr Little yesterday said he could not comment and referred all questions to Ms Karen Kelley, the embassy spokesperson, who was not in a position to comment over the weekend.
However, another senior US Embassy official said: “We cannot comment on diplomatic activities in the media.”
Our Harare Bureau spoke to several people in Hurungwe West — which Mliswa represents in the National Assembly — who confirmed the visit.
Party officials on the tour also said Cde Mliswa introduced Mr Little to headmen and villagers, and held meetings in Wards 15 and 20 of the constituency with councillors.
Since that visit, some money has flowed into the constituency, primarily targeting rural schools.
The US Embassy in Harare says no Zanu-PF legislator has benefited from the Ambassador’s Self-Help Fund, but observers say there are “other facilities — some public and others covert — through which money is chanelled”.
Mr Little’s official designation is second secretary (parliamentary affairs) at the embassy in Harare, but sources say his real employer is the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Through his regular visits to Parliament Building in Harare, Mr Little has established close contacts with MPs who brief him on developments in their parties.
And it has now emerged that Cde Mliswa, for any number of possible reasons, has been in close contact with Mr Little.
Mliswa told the ruling party’s Mashonaland West Provincial Co-ordinating Committee on the weekend of 21-22 September that “kune varungu varikutibatsira, varikutumidzira mari. Munongoti pasi nevarungu; mari dzevarungu ndidzo dzatirikudya pano pano’’ (there are whites who are helping us, who are sending money to us. You always say down with whites; but it is their money we are spending at this meeting).”
Before that, Mliswa had summoned several Zanu-PF Mashonaland West PCC members to his Spring Lodge in Hurungwe.
Mliswa, Women’s League provincial political commissar Chinjayi Kambuzuma, Mliswa’s secretary, and at least two others met Mr Little, political specialist in the US Embassy Mr Munyaradzi Shepherd Bwanya and one other official.
Mr Bwanya was not reachable for comment yesterday.
A source said: “Temba introduced us to the US Embassy officials and we did not understand what was going on. It is only after publication of stories about Eric Little that things started making sense.”
Another source added: “Temba told us that these were Americans with money. He wanted to tour Hurungwe West with them because they could give money.
“We were joined by a CIO operative from Magunje, who Temba introduced as a youth officer. Temba said that as we went around, no one should use slogans like ‘pamberi neZanu and pasi nevarungu’, because we wanted American money. Temba and Eric were in the same car, so only they know what exactly they discussed.
“We went to four schools and about three clinics. We also met village headmen. Temba introduced Little to them as the American Ambassador, saying he had a cash facility for our development and so we should all stop saying ‘pamberi neZanu, pasi nevarungu’.”
The touring party visited Chembizi, Waseva, Mutore and Chizizi primary schools. The names of the clinics could not be determined.
Teachers from the schools confirmed the American spy’s visit, but asked not to be named publicly for fear of a backlash.
A teacher at Waseva Primary said: “I remember Mliswa and some white guys came to Ward 15 and 20 and held a meeting. . . They visited Waseva, Mutore and Chembizi primary schools as well as a clinic. . . I am not sure which one between Zvipani and Deve Clinic.
“Mliswa told us the visitors were Americans and they had a lot of money for us. Soon after that, we got bags of cement and started building a classroom block.”
A Government worker who cannot be named for professional reasons said Mliswa made promises to improve infrastructure in the constituency with help from “his generous friends”.
“He always moves around with all sorts of different people. He is in touch with the constituency although questions can be raised as to where he is getting the money . . . But he is helping the community.”
A party source on the tour went on: “Eric Little did not say much throughout, he was mostly taking pictures. Mliswa did most of the talking. At one point, Bwanya said ‘munongotuka varungu imi musina mari ye development’ (‘you like insulting whites and yet you have no money for development’.)
“All throughout, Cde Mliswa looked eager to please Little. At one dilapidated school, he said ‘chikoro here ichi? Mogona kuitirwa zvirinani nevarungu’ (‘is this a school? These whites can do better for you’).”
Back at Spring Lodge after the tour, Mr Bwanya reportedly said the ruling party should “stop its anti-American slogans because America has money”.
The American Embassy staff then urged the Zanu-PF officials to get in touch if they wanted money.
A Politburo official from Mashonaland West yesterday said, “If what we are hearing is true, then certainly Cde Mliswa cannot continue to be chairman of the province.
“We cannot have a provincial chairman who one minute says ‘pamberi neZanu’ and then turns around and tells voters to bow their heads and accept cheap handouts from the same countries that have sanctioned us.”
Yesterday, Cde Mliswa said there was nothing wrong with the meeting because security agents in Mashonaland West cleared it.
He said he met the Americans after he requested financial assistance to buy a CD4 count machine for Zvipani Clinic and the US Embassy officials “wanted to assess the situation on the ground”.
This was after he had already said he only talked to Mr Little after the American “got his number from someone and phoned me”.
“We are even using the US dollar . . . that is the biggest infiltration by the Americans because we are using their money.
“The visit by Little was well-known by the police and the President’s Office; he was accompanied by two State security agents. I am not stupid; I can prove that by way of producing all the communication to show that everything was above aboard . . .
“There is nothing amiss about the US funding projects that help the ordinary; they are allowed by Government. Let’s not play cheap politics. We know it’s a few months before the (Zanu-PF) Congress and people are plotting a coup against me. It’s a witch-hunt.
“But I haven’t received any funds or help yet; actually, the US Embassy turned down my request. This was after constituency co-ordinator Admire Muchabva had initially made an application which was also declined. The US Embassy referred me to the Australian embassy and I am still pursuing the issue because there is a need in the constituency.
“I have always provided resources for schools in my constituency. These resources are from my pocket. I challenge anyone to prove that I received funds from an NGO. I also challenge the authorities to investigate and punish me of any wrong doing because I am not above the law.”
He went on: “Let me also put it on record that Professor Moyo is a more CIA than me because he ran Ford Foundation in Kenya where he stole money and was forgiven. Who is a CIA agent, the one who ran a fund or me . . . who just received? Let’s not make things out of nothing.
“Christopher Mutsvangwa (Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister) has been meeting diplomats week-in, week-out in Norton but who has been making noise about it? Also, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary (Affairs) Emmerson Mnangagwa should stop grandstanding in Parliament; he was out of order; why did he give credence to accusations which cannot be substantiated. He is a lawyer . . . he should know better, what was his agenda of responding to rumours in Parliament?”
Prof Moyo worked for the Ford Foundation in 1993. He could not be reached for comment last night but is on record saying politicians trying to blame him for their association with American spies were clutching at straws because he was not involved in their private meetings.
Other Zanu-PF MPs said to have received US financial backing denied the allegations.
Those said to be involved, through the US Ambassador’s Slef-Help Fund, are: Mliswa, Paul Mavhima (Gokwe Sengwa), Walter Kanhanga (Guruve North), Adam Chimwamurombe (Chipinge West), Chriswell Mutematsaka (Guruve South), Batsirayi Pemhanayi (Mutare North), Enock Porusingazi (Chipinge West), Tapiwanashe Matangaidze (Shurugwi South), Kindness Paradza (Makonde), David Butau (Mbire), Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Uzumba) and another from Masvingo province.
MDC-T officials said to be exchanging information for money are Mabvuku-Tafara MP Mr James Maridadi and Willas Madzimure of Kambuzuma.
The State media says it has it on good authority that at least two more Zanu-PF MPs benefited from American largesse.
They are legislators from Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central, who are not named here in the interest of fair comment because this paper was unable to get hold of them before publication.
Spokespersons of both parties this past week said they would not tolerate such activities by their members and were investigating the allegations. Sunday Mail/Zimbabwe Mail.com