By Lance Guma
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Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bodyguard was found dead Tuesday afternoon almost 48 hours after he allegedly had a heated meeting with the VP.
According to Nehanda Radio sources Kudzai Celeb Chirenje (29) a member of the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) was found dead along the Munyati River. Its believed he was murdered and his body dumped in the bushes nearby.
Chirenje was stationed at Mnangagwa’s Sherwood residence in Kwekwe. A colleague of his who preferred not to be named for obvious reasons said Chirenje had his mobile phone taken away from him and ‘incriminating’ messages found.
We understand he had a meeting with Mnangagwa on Sunday where he faced accusations that he was working with a faction loyal to deposed former Vice President Joice Mujuru, a fierce political rival of the new VP. A fellow member of Mnangagwa’s security detail is said to have ‘ratted’ on his colleague.
On Monday Chirenje went missing only for his body to be found along the Munyati River on Tuesday. We understand he is the third member of Mnangagwa’s security team to disappear in January. The fate of the other two is not known. But our sources say the trend is ‘worrying’.
There was drama at Chirenje’s funeral wake in Redcliff as family and friends, furious at the circumstances surrounding his death, attempted to bar suspected Zanu PF youths and CIO agents from attending. Nehanda Radio has audio recordings of the Zanu PF youths singing and chanting outside the venue.
According to one family member Chirenje was born in Nyanga in 1985 but grew up in Goromonzi. He joined the CIO in 2007 where he was posted to the ministerial protection department. He will be buried in Nyanga on Friday.
The political tension within Zanu PF is at an all time high after President Robert Mugabe and his wife led a purge of those perceived as backing his then deputy Joice Mujuru. Mugabe accused Mujuru of plotting to topple and kill him.
But despite Mnangagwa benefiting from the purge the level of suspicion within his camp is so high he is said to have ordered a review of his security including plans to change the vehicles that he normally uses. The big question will be why members of his security team keep disappearing or showing up dead.
In September (2014) burglars broke into Mnangagwa’s office at the New Government Complex. Police investigators flocked to the building, some with sniffer dogs, to investigate. Mnangagwa referred all questions to his permanent secretary, Mrs. Virginia Mabhiza, who confirmed the break-in.
The following month in October Mnangagwa reportedly escaped death by a whisker when his Mercedes Benz was rammed on the driver’s side by a staff bus belonging to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals along Herbert Chitepo Avenue in Harare. Mnangagwa who was driving alone escaped unhurt and went home afterwards.
Then in December it was reported that unknown suspects tried to kill the newly appointed VP by spraying cyanide in his office. The state broadcaster ZBC claimed Mnangagwa’s secretary “was badly affected by the attempted poisoning and was taken to hospital for attention”.