If there is any part of Douglas Mwonzora’s life that he does not want exposed, it is the curious episode that led to the flight of his former law firm partner, Trust Sengwayo.
Sengwayo, once a celebrated University of Zimbabwe-trained lawyer, fled into exile in South Africa after he and staff at Mwonzora, Sengwayo and Partners law firm were brutally assaulted by alleged Central Intelligence Organisation operatives.
According to sources, Sengwayo’s ‘crime’ was that he had landed the high profile but politically sensitive account of former prime minister Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s United African National Council party. Muzorewa was under attack, falsely accused of trying to import arms from Israel to topple the government.
Ex-employees at the defunct law firm described the attack that caused Sengwayo, the more visible partner, to flee the country and spend six years in exile, mostly lecturing at a university. State media claimed falsely when he left that Sengwayo had stolen client funds from the trust account. The employees said they were surprised that Mwonzora had done little or nothing to disprove the serious claims against his former partner, leading to charges that he had been instrumental in framing his former colleague.
Both Mwonzora and Sengwayo could not be reached for comment, but ex-employees spoke out against the MDC-T secretary-general.
“I am surprised that the MDC-T could give Mwonzora such a high post because as far as we know, he worked for state security. Sengwayo was forced to flee the country after several state security agents invaded our offices demanding files from him. They were pointing guns at us and they beat up everyone. Sengwayo tried to resist the intrusion but he too was badly beaten. They were demanding files relating to the Muzorewa case but Sengwayo refused to hand them over,” said a former employee, admitting the incident had ruined his life.
“What bothered us is that whenever these attacks happened Mwonzora would not be there. He would have gone to our Masvingo offices or somewhere else claiming to be on business. He would come back the next day pretending to be very sympathetic.”
The former worker said when Sengwayo was forced to leave the country Mwonzora did nothing to clear the air about allegedly missing client funds.
Sengwayo returned to Zimbabwe in 2009 and worked briefly as acting town clerk of Redcliff. He later re-established himself as a lawyer in Harare. Contrary to claims that he had stolen client funds – a serious offence in Zimbabwe’s self-regulating legal fraternity – the Law Society (LSZ) registered him without any public enquiry about the allegedly missing funds, which was taken to mean he was clean.
Mwonzora is now hard pressed to prove that he is not connected to state security.
Other senior MDC-T officials have been accused of being Mugabe’s agents. MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai was accused by former party secretary-general Welshman Ncube of being a CIO mole. Former senior party members like Tendai Biti said Tsvangirai had been bribed with a state mansion and a farm but others said he started working for the spy agency while still a trade unionist.
Another state security operative, Lilian Mpofu Timveos had her cover blown recently after she tried to smuggle 200 ‘spy pens’ – listening and recording devices disguised as pens – which were to be used to secretly record MDC-T meetings and pass on the information to Zanu PF. Mpofu Timveos is said to report to several CIO and Zanu PF officials, including Annastacia Ndhlovu, Melody Dziva and Paul Chimedza. Fellow party members recently accused her of being funded by vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa to destroy MDC-T from within. Others said she wanted to team up with Nelson Chamisa to form a party. Mpofu Timveos has instigated and sponsored much of the violence that has rocked the movement since 2014, destroying party structures and setting up her own bogus ones in the Midlands where she was chairperson. Analysts say the infiltration by intelligence services has worked better than beatings from Zanu PF mobs. The violence unleashed by Mpofu Timveos’s MDC-T militia known as the ‘Boko Haram’ cost the party vital Western funding in 2014 when it was directed on Biti and former treasurer-general Elton Mangoma. Relations with Western diplomats have once again become frosty for Tsvangirai after CIO operatives in the party instigated attacks on party vice president Thokozani Khupe, who is virtually banned from MDC-T gatherings addressed by Tsvangirai.
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