African spies meet in Harare

HARARE - Spies drawn from across African countries will meet in Zimbabwe next month, with the country’s director of intelligence taking over the chairmanship of a body bringing together the continent’s secret service organisations.

The Conference of the Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (Cissa), that will take place in Harare, from May 1 to May 8, is viewed by government as an endorsement of the Central Intelligence Organisation as Zimbabwe prepares for a watershed election that could be held in the next few months.

According to a statement, President Robert Mugabe will officially open the summit that will be graced by African Union (AU) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The country’s spy master, director general Happyton Bonyongwe will be elevated to the position of chairperson of Cissa.

Director Generals of secret services from 49 member States and the executive secretary of Cissa, Isaac Moyo will also grace the occasion.

Cissa, which acts as an advisory body on intelligence, peace and security matters to the Africa Union Commission and specifically the Peace and Security Council of the continental body, was established in August 2004 in Abuja, Nigeria to close the existing void in the continental security architecture on intelligence matters.

This was borne out of the need to assist the AU to deal effectively with multifaceted intelligence and security challenges confronting the continent.

“The selection of Zimbabwe and its intelligence and security service to host the conference and the ascendancy of the director general in the president’s department, major general Happyton Bonyongwe, to the position of chairpersonof Cissa are a landmark development in the history of the country and a first for Zimbabwe,” reads the statement.

The theme of the conference, The nexus between Africa’s natural resources, development and security, resonates with Mugabe’s Zanu PF policies such as the controversial Indigenisation programme.

While Zimbabwe plays hosts to African secret police, debate is raging on in the county ahead of elections as the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is pushing for the flushing out of CIOs that are working in government departments as well as commissions such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Zec is the body responsible for conducting electoral processes in the country and analysts say key persons in its secretariat are part of the country’s feared intelligence department.

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