STATE security agents probing last Saturday’s attack on Air Marshal Perrance Shiri have reportedly linked the incident to either Zanu PF’s succession battle or alleged MDC banditry.
Reliable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that the probe team – made up of the police, Central Intelligence Organisation and Military Intelligence – was pursuing the two lines of inquiry and were tasked to get to the bottom of the matter.
The MDC-Tsvangirai has since denied involvement in banditry and the state’s attempt to link it to Shiri’s shooting.
The Air Force commander was shot in the arm and was reportedly recovering at Manyame Air Base Hospital.
The sources said the investigations have so far revealed that Shiri was shot at by at least four gunmen as he was driving past Pote Bridge along the Harare-Bindura road. He was on his way to his farm in Mashonaland Central.
“There are two lines of inquiry being pursued,” one of the sources said. “What is not in doubt at the moment is that this was meant to be a political assassination, but the question is by who? There is suspicion that the shooting could be linked to the infighting in Zanu PF or to the MDC, which the state claims is training youths in Botswana to destabilise the country.”
Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi this week said the attempt on Shiri’s life revealed that his assailants were trained and there was a clear pattern to destabilise the country through acts of terrorism.
“The attack on Air Marshal Shiri appears to be a build-up of terror attacks targeting high-profile persons, government officials, government establishments and public transportation systems,” Mohadi said.
The sources said the probe team has collected bullets and shells from the scene of the shooting incident and sent them for ballistic testing.
Shiri, the sources said, pulled out a service pistol and fired back soon after the attack prompting his assailants to bolt.
He reportedly phoned Prisons Commissioner Paradzai Zimhondi and informed him of the attack before seeking help from surrounding farms. He was later taken to Manyame for medical attention.
Shiri, Zimhondi, police commissioner Augustine Chihuri, army commander Constantine Chiwenga and CIO director general Happyton Bonyongwe allegedly spearheaded the re-election of President Robert Mugabe during the presidential poll run-off on June 27.
The countdown to the poll was littered with violence that saw Tsvangirai pulling out of the race, but the election went ahead regardless.
The MDC-T said the attempt on Shiri’s life should be blamed on the internal conflicts in Zanu PF.
In a statement, the party said Zanu PF was now “fundamentally exhausted and tired” and “exhausted nationalism creates conditions for internal destabilisation and a discourse of internal civil conflict.”
The MDC-T said Zanu PF had failed to undergo periodic rebirth and renewal and had remained trapped in a modicum of sterility, banality and dishonesty.
“In short, it is the unresolved issue of succession in Zanu PF that is at the root cause of the violence against Perrance Shiri and the dislocation in Zanu PF,” the party said.Â “In our view, there are so many individuals and factions vying to succeed the aged Mugabe.
However, each of those factions has a control and influence on members of the army. Therefore, Zanu PF factionalism and unresolved succession battles are also being played out in the military junta.”
The MDC-T said the arsenal used against Shiri could only have been owned and possessed by members of the Zimbabwe National Army.
Efforts to get comment from police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena were in vain at the time of going to press yesterday.
BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE