The attempt by a top Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) official to smuggle electronic spying devices into Zimbabwe has blown her cover as a top operative of the state intelligence service, officials in Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC faction claimed.
Lilian Mpofu Timveos, the frayed opposition movement’s secretary for domestic affairs – according to leaked e-mails and Whatsapp messages – approached one ‘Leon Patton’, a Nigerian fraudster claiming to be an American businessman and asked him to deliver 200 ‘spy pens’, electronic eavesdropping equipment disguised as pens or other innocent-looking objects such as shoes. The discreet spying gear was to be used in MDC-T meetings and to spy on fellow party MPs in parliament, according to sources. This became necessary after MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai banned the use of cell phones in meetings and warned against the use of smartphones and androids which he claimed were easier for state security agencies to track.
The deal went awry when ‘Patton’, the person Mpofu Timveos had given the job of importing the pens from the USA, turned out to be a Nigerian 419 fraudster out to blackmail her and use her to get access to classified government information. Mpofu Timveos is a member of the sensitive peace and security committee and used that position to supply information about how to smuggle gold and diamonds from Zimbabwe and get high-grade fertilizer used in explosives from the US through Zambia. While pursuing the spy pens deal, the under-fire senator, who is allegedly being shunned by colleagues after the scandal broke, was forced into ‘sex chats’ with one of the gang members and agreed to a ‘secret marriage’.
Mpofu Timveos also ordered smartphones that could be used for spying on the activities of fellow party members amid divisions and factionalism triggered by Tsvangirai’s refusal to step down after losing the 2013 national elections, his fourth straight loss to president Robert Mugabe in 13 years.
Mpofu Timveos, the Midlands proportional representation senator also installed software designed to hide the conversations from United States authorities, after Patton complained that their conversations could be monitored.
The leaked correspondence shows that the spyware was to be shipped to Mpofu Timveos’s ‘sister-in-law’ in South Africa, where the senator promised to collect it by car and smuggle it into Zimbabwe, assuring her partner in crime that the country’s borders were “porous”. Mpofu Timveos has been criticized for revealing that information to criminals as she is a member of parliament’s peace and security committee, which reviews confidential reports about the country’s border security.
“Mpofu Timveos is a member of state security. We know that she reports through relatives and friends,” said a senior MDC-T official.
Mpofu Timveos, who is reportedly bankrolled by vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, has wormed her way into top party circles by making regular donations to the party and giving cash to the increasingly desperate Tsvangirai. Currently, she is gathering information about the financial sources of journalists, celebrities, civil society organizations and fellow MDC-T MPs and officials. Among her targets are the founding editor and chief executive officer of Now Media, the award-winning investigative journalist John Chimunhu, Media Centre director Ernest Mudzengi, Daily News, Newsday and Voice of America journalists as well as NGO officials Sidney Chisi, Tawanda Chimhini and vocal MPs including Thokozani Khupe, Jessie Majome, Ronia Bunjira and Prosper Mutseyami. She is also accused of spying on foreign embassies, including the United States and European Union missions as well as traditional leaders, the disabled and MDC-T veterans.
Mysteriously, Mpofu Timveos was the only one who was not harassed when riot police raided the MDC-T’s Harvest House headquarters and brutally assaulted everyone present, including Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka.
The senator uses two identities, which is against the law. Lilian Mpofu is her passport name, which she also uses for banking and business matters while she uses Lilian Timveos in parliament and for other public purposes.
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