Mugabe's last loyal and super-rich general speaks out about 'betrayal' as state moves to seize his assets

28 June 2020 - 13:25 By Lenin Ndebele
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Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. File photo.
Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. File photo.

The last general to remain loyal to the late former president Robert Mugabe, Augustine Chihuri, has spoken for the first time about betrayal by one of his deputies ahead of the November 2017 coup.

He also claims he has a long-standing personal feud with President Emmerson Mnangagwa over a woman.

The revelations were made in court papers filed at the high court where Chihuri — the former commissioner general of the Zimbabwe Republic Police — is fighting the state’s intention to seize his “unexplainable wealth”, mostly held in six of his companies.

His estimated wealth is US$32m.

He describes it as a “politically targeted persecution” directed at himself, his wife, children and other relatives.

When the army set in motion its plan to unseat Mugabe, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (under Chihuri) remained loyal to Mugabe. As such the former top cop was captured during the coup and later forced into retirement.

“The number one reason for my persecution is my refusal to participate in the November 2017 coup that toppled the late President Robert Gabriel Mugabe,” Chihuri said in court papers.

Chihuri said Godwin Matanga, who at the time was his deputy, helped set the coup in motion when he lied that Chihuri was planning to arrest Gen Constantino Chiwenga.

“He went on to lie to the then CDF (commander of defence forces) that I wanted to arrest him on his return from China ... to sow seeds of division and hate between me and the then CDF,” he said.

Chihuri added that Matanga, his “uneducated” eventual successor, was rewarded with the top police job because he went behind his back and took part in the putsch.

“He was rewarded for being a willing participant in the coup process and not on merit,” said Chihuri.

Chihuri had served as police boss for 27 years. “I was fired like a dog,” he said.

Thereafter he left the country on medical grounds and has not returned. He claimed that soon after his departure, persecution intensified.

“Commissioner General Godwin Matanga continuously and systematically engaged in a strategy of harassing my family, relatives and workers threatening and beating my workers at gunpoint,” the former commissioner said.

He added that armed police would threaten his children to reveal his whereabouts.

Chihuri also says there’s bad blood between him and President Emmerson Mnangagwa which goes as far back as the 1970s war of independence — and it’s over a woman.

“I wish to put it on record to this court that the social relationship between His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and I has been broken down since the liberation struggle and it has degenerated to personal hate.

“ ... my wife got pregnant by me (1977). The current president of Zimbabwe, Mr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, was aware of this union and pregnancy. Using his position, he got my then wife transferred to Shai Shai in Mozambique where he had a forced affair with her as she alleged,” he added.

This is one of the reasons why the president had an axe to grind, he claimed.

Chihuri said he didn’t do much about the “forced affair” because at the time he feared for his life.

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