Barnabas Thondhlana
As the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe intensifies, Zimbabwe’s intelligence apparatus has increased surveillance on senior ruling Zanu-PF party and government officials, leaving them jittery and wary of their communication habits and movements.State security agents, comprising the spy agency the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and military intelligence, are at the forefront of snooping on their colleagues as well as supposed adversaries. High-ranking government officials said intelligence gathering by security agents has reached unprecedented and worrying levels as the succession battle intensifies.

Some of the intelligence gathered, officials say, is being used to promote factional agendas rather than to advance the country’s security. “You are no longer free to have a conversation on your phone because every conversation is listened to.

You are not free to have a conversation in your car or office because they are bugged. Even our homes are bugged,” a cabinet minister said.

“We have become slaves to the system because you are forced to think about whom you meet, where to meet and what you say, even in private conversations.”

Apart from being trailed and closely monitored, some ministers believe spying tools have been installed in their homes.

“The purpose is basically to have knowledge of who you are meeting or talking to and what you are talking about, especially over the succession issue…