The Sunday News
WE continue our interview with former Zapu intelligence officer and Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial chairman, Cde Macleod Tshawe whose pseudo name was Cde Jabulani Cele. In the interview with our Assistant Editor Mkhululi Sibanda (MS), Cde Tshawe gives an insight into the use of intelligence during the armed struggle. Below are excerpts of the interview:
MS: You spoke about being sent to the Soviet Union for advanced training in intelligence. Take us through that process.
Cde Tshawe: Before I talk about going to the Soviet Union, let me go back a bit to show how life was at the Moscow Camp in Zambia. It was an exclusively intelligence training facility and that is where I had my initial training. Close to the Moscow School of Intelligence was a Zipra camp, a military facility and also nearby there was a camp for reconnaissance officers. In charge of Moscow as I have said was Cde Nephat Madlela, who was responsible for recruitment and training of intelligence officers in the National Security and Order (NSO), which was the Zapu intelligence unit.
The Moscow Camp, like any other intelligence installation was out of bounds for many people, it was a no go area. People who used to come there were people like Dumiso Dabengwa who was the director of the intelligence services to see how things were being done. This is because if you are serving in the intelligence, it is important that you remain under cover, you should avoid being burnt out, that is having your cover blown off. Intelligence is a secret service and that is how the world over things work out in that field. The late Sam Madondo, Sihle who is now in Kariba were there. With us as I have said before I was with the now Retired Brigadier-General Levi Mayihlome, Wallace Nyathi, Mayorume (Major Mpofu), Nelson Mathenjwa, Pius, Dominic Mguni and Jimmy Moyo.
Other comrades that were part of us but a stream ahead were oPicture (Mbizo), Canaan Ncube, Jeckoniah and others. After spending three months at our Moscow we were flown to Moscow, that is in the Soviet Union. We went via Luanda and although I was actually the commander of my group there were senior serving intelligence officers who were attached to Zapu President Dr Joshua Nkomo’s Close Security Unit. Those were Newsreel and Chillies (Fred Mutanda), who is now a businessman in Harare.
When we got to Budapest I will tell you what happened there. Newsreel approached me and says, “Komandira I have some ammunition, which I mistakenly brought with me here.” Then I started noticing that some under cover security personnel were keeping tabs on him. They had seen those bullets obviously through the scanners. I then suggested that we go to the toilet where we flushed them down. When we were about to board the plane, those people were surprised that Newsreel had nothing. At Budapest there was another group from our side that was going to Yugoslavia and it was from the military side. It was led by now Retired Brigadier-General Abel Mazinyane. UMazinyane wayelabo Matoyoyo.
MS: Then tell us about life in the then Soviet Union.
Cde Tshawe: We were shocked by the weather, it was unbearably cold. As for the training kwakungadlalwa. We went through a lot of things. We were taught things such as intelligence, that is gathering of information, vital and classified information, top secrets, you name it. There were also modules in customs and excise, immigration, border controls, policing, learning about the party itself, economics, politics, infiltration, crafting and use of propaganda, photography, there were modules and modules. We would start in the morning at around 9am and break for lunch, then go up to 4pm.
Some of the instructors were professors at universities there, you write and write notes. We were at the Moscow School of Military Intelligence. You know intelligence involves a lot of things, you are supposed to study human behaviour so that you can read different situations as accurately as possible.
We were there for nine months, but at times we would have some excursions and visit places of historical, political, cultural and economic significance. What surprised us was that some of the instructors knew Bulawayo and Harare better than us. It looks like some had been assigned to Rhodesia and probably infiltrated its system.
One of our instructors had been an operative in South Africa where he had been sent to carry out some missions and had infiltrated the apartheid intelligence system.
There are a lot of things that we learnt, but unfortunately I cannot reveal all in a public platform like this one. I should also mention that an intelligence officer operates in a sophisticated field, so he or she should avoid being captured as that compromises operations because he or she carries sensitive information, which he or she might reveal when compromised and is being interrogated. There were notes that we were writing and we would be told that they will remain behind, but since there is a need for umphako I took mine to Zambia.
MS: How did you manage to do that?
Cde Tshawe: There were those notes covering particularly the field intelligence, not politics. So I will transfer that information to my own book, which was not official because I felt there was a need to have umphako. I thought that information was very important, kanti ngiyazinceda.
MS: You talk about your training, where were Cdes Mutanda and Newsreel?
Cde Tshawe: Ooh, those two had travelled for a special session for intelligence officers and they were there for around three months. They were not with us. Remember they were already serving and had done their training overseas way before. After our training, that is after nine months, we returned to Zambia.
MS: What happened when you got back to Zambia?
Cde Tshawe: Sesivela ezitshebeni and now one gets back to the bush, that was the life of a freedom fighter. Back in Zambia we were ready for deployment. We met Madlela again and Nkosana Dlodlo, the former DJ. I was deployed and worked under Madlela, that is in the recruitment and training desk.
There were other departments within the NSO such as that finance and administration, which was headed by now late national hero, Cde Swazini Ndlovu, who was an economist by training and degrees in that field, Noah Mvenge, whose brother Lazarus Mvenge was the MP for Mutare South was in charge of the Public Security and Rehabilitation, he was later on deputised by Jeconiah.
Other directors in the NSO were Cde Gordon Butshe who was in charge of counter-intelligence, Cde Victor Mlambo was the head of intelligence and some of his boys were the ones embedded to the guerillas at the front while the late Retired Brigadier-General Patrick Mhandu was responsible for military intelligence and there was also Cde Albert Nxele, who was in charge of the close security unit kaMdala, uJoshua Nkomo.
To be continued next week when we round up the interview with Cde Tshawe talking about his operations