The truth behind the Shiri shooting
Zimbabwe's Air Force commander Perence Shiri, the target of an attemped assassination on Sunday morning, was shot at by his own side. My sources reveal that Shiri was the victim of a plot hatched by the feared spy agency the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
Four hitmen armed with machine guns waylaid Shiri as he was driving back from his farm in Shamva, a mining town in Mashonaland Central. The plan was to fire first at the car, forcing it into a ditch, and then to finish off the Air Marshal at point blank range.
Three bullets hit Shiri's vehicle, one of them wounding him in the shoulder. But it is understood that he pulled out a pistol and returned fire, forcing the hitmen to flee. He later received treatment for the wound at the hospital at Manyame Air Force Base.
My source in the CIO told me that Shiri, who is a member of the Joint Operations Command, the military junta that virtually rules Zimbabwe today, was targeted because of his growing stature within the ruling Zanu-PF party.
"He has begun to rival the Zimbabwe Army Commander, Constantine Chiwenga," I was told. "Chiwenga is determined to succeed Mugabe, so it was decided that Shiri should be eliminated."
There was also a suspicion within Zanu-PF that Shiri had been in secret contact with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), with a view to achieving immunity from prosecution, in the event of the MDC taking power in the country.
Immunity is something Shiri would surely need. His name is still cursed in parts of Zimbabwe, because in the 1980s he personally masterminded the infamous Gukurahundi operation, in which 20,000 Ndebeles in the Matebeleland region were massacred.
Now of course the government will attempt to blame the assassination attempt on some mythical opposition force allied to the MDC. Most Zimbabweans will reject this explanation. We have long known that, if you join the turbulent ranks of Zanu-PF, you will find you have more enemies inside the party than out.