THE government has beefed up the security details deployed to guard Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube amid concerns that the Treasury chief has received threats, Business Times has learnt.
Following the introduction of austerity measures which sought to cut government spending, Ncube has divided opinion both within and outside the government itself and the ruling Zanu-PF party. He has also received a barrage of criticisms from Zimbabweans who blame him for the tough belt-tightening measures imposed since he came into office in September 2018.
Security sources told Business Times that apart from members of the Presidium and high ranking military officials, Ncube was now one of the most protected government officials in the country.
“Intelligence services personnel from the security branch received reports that the Finance Minister’s security was under threat,” a source said. “This report was taken up in October to the top echelons of the Central Intelligence Organisation, who then approved a recommendation to increase the number of security details protecting the minister.
“Ordinarily, the minister should have a driver and an aide from the intelligence community. Members of the Police Protection Unit (VIP unit) are tasked with protecting his residence. But the minister now has a mini motorcade which does not have soldiers and escort police.”
State Security minister Owen Ncube could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print. The number of officers from the intelligence protecting the minister has been doubled and now they use communications systems that ordinarily would be used for VVIPs.”
Business Times also observed that Ncube’s security at his New Government Complex offices has also been beefed up and more elaborate measures are now in place. Insiders say Mthuli has also been criticised by hawkish Zanu-PF officials who blame him for abandoning populist policies for reforms that are backed by multilateral financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.
Asked at a recent press conference if his security was under threat due to changes in the security level around him, Ncube downplayed the development, saying: “This is normal security protocol. We do not know who is coming here.”
In August, rural teachers resolved to picket Ncube’s finance ministry offices to push for increased salaries pegged at the interbank market rate. Dubbed “Pay Day Funerals”, the protests, which were led by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), came to an end after the police banned them.
Zimbabwe’s annual inflation reached 175,66% in June, the highest since the government introduced the multi-currency system in 2009. The multi-currency system was abandoned in June this year.