WikiLeaks publishes classified Zim e-mails

HARARE - Secrets-spilling WikiLeaks has begun releasing a cache of 5,5 million emails obtained from the servers of Stratfor, a US-based intelligence gathering firm with about 300 000 subscribers, an exposé likely to infuriate the US embassy in Harare.

So far, only three  Stratfor emails on Zimbabwe have been published by WikiLeaks, the document-leaking organisation that has previously released confidential diplomatic cables wired by US ambassadors to Washington giving a devastating portrait of the US’s low opinion on Zimbabwean politics.

The Texas headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency.

While in the last batch WikiLeaks gave the documents in advance to The New York Times and four European newspapers, sparking frantic diplomatic activity at White House, this time WikiLeaks has partnered with 25 media organisations around the world.

The emails  claims  on Zanu PF, MDC and South Africa’s ruling ANC succession battles, speaks on how the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) will determine the next Zimbabwean ruler, and Zanu PF’s attempt to water down SA President Jacob Zuma’s influence in the ongoing Sadc mediation.

Unlike previous WikiLeaks releases, this latest email cache was apparently obtained through a hacking attack on Stratfor by Anonymous in December 2011 rather than through a whistleblower and contains Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.

Statfor’s Zimbabwean informers, whose names were withheld, include “a Zimbabwean businessman in South Africa (who) does business in both countries” with contacts in Zanu PF and MDC and with leadership ambitions, a South African private security contractor who works mostly in East Africa, and an ex-SA intelligence agent who now runs his own risk consultancy.

The US embassy in Harare has stated that as a matter of policy, it did not comment on documents that “purport” to contain classified information.

This is the biggest leak of emails in history.

In one email by the South Africa-based businessman said  to have rose to leadership of the Zimbabwean students union and his secretary general at that time is the current (MDC) Finance minister, he thinks the next elections will come in March or April 2013.

The businessman says incumbent President Robert Mugabe “is in poor health” and “Zanu PF knows it’s in a tough spot to win the next election”.

“Not that they are thinking about letting the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC win the election, but they’re not clear on their own ability to slam through another election win,” the businessman is quoted saying.

“Zanu PF has not reached out to the MDC but it would take some MDC folks quietly reaching out to Zanu PF to give them assurances, for some kind of alliance among moderates of Zanu PF and of MDC to bring about a ‘second Republic’.”

Simba Makoni was said to have “overplayed his hand and has lost any chance he might have of running for president.”

An ex-SA intelligence agent is quoted in one email saying Zanu PF does not want Zuma to be mediator on the Zimbabwe coalition government.

“Zanu PF wants to reduce Zuma’s influence as he sits on two chairs (chair of Zimbabwe mediation on behalf of Sadc, and chair of the Sadc peace and security council committee) and Mugabe feels that South Africa is not anymore so ‘helpful’ as in the Mbeki era,” the email says.

“However, everything has been turned upside down with the mysterious death of Solomon Mujuru over the weekend. This is HUGE and can change the whole scenario in Zimbabwe. Nothing can be said about Zimbabwe without not taking Mujuru’s death into account.” - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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