Air Marshal Perence Shiri (yawning), with other heads of the Armed Forces at a press conference on March 29 this year
Robert Mugabe's party, ZANU PF is secretly admitting that the "attempted murder" of Air Marshal Perence Shiri was actually an attempted suicide. The incident comes at an opportune time for ZANU PF, who will be able to link it to the "MDC insurgency" plot as well as the "mutiny" that everyone still believes was a genuine rebellion by the soldiers.
The immediate question of course is why this man, one of the high-fliers in the establishment, the man who commanded the 5th Brigade at the height of the Gukurahundi operation in Matabeleland, would want to do himself in.
The answer is simple enough.
The insurgency/mutiny plot that is now shaping up very nicely for ZANU PF has also presented the factions within that party with an opportunity to destroy each other. So, if you bear with me, to understand this, you will have to be subjected to an explanation of how the Air Marshal came to be sucked into this "insurgency/mutiny" plot.
Shiri was recently called in by Mugabe, not to State House, but to the old man's Helensvale home and quizzed. Mugabe started by referring back to the visit paid by Learnmore Jongwe (an MDC activist who has since died) and some of his colleagues to the Air Marshal some years ago, at the beginning of the MDC ascendancy. Back then, Learnmore Jongwe, perhaps the only real strategist the MDC had, wanted assure the armed forces that there was no threat to them from the MDC.
The approach that these youthful MDC leaders made to Shiri and other armed forces members was immediately reported to Mugabe by Shiri and the others who had been approached. Mugabe said at the time that the MDC thought that they could influence the armed forces to support an armed overthrow of ZANU PF, basically a coup.
Mugabe wanted to know if the Air Marshal had anything to tell him. He wanted to know if any approach had been made by the MDC in terms of asking for help, either directly or by ensuring that the air force did not use it's air power to back any counter attack against insurgents that may come into the country. He had to ask, he said, "because some people in the party are talking nonsense about you."
The ZANU PF insiders say that this rattled Shiri, who knows exactly how convincing the case being cooked up around the insurgency by Mugabe is. The suspicion that he quietly backed Simba Makoni in March only made things worse. Shiri is said to suspect that the insurgency issue would also suck him in, used by a rival faction in the ruling party to destroy him or perhaps even worse. If evidence could be cooked up against the MDC, it equally could be cooked up against him by the powerful faction that has most to gain from this whole issue, the faction that now believes their ascendancy in ZANU PF is assured.
If real details are ever released, you will notice that the Air Marshal was wounded, not in the arm, but in the shoulder. Sources say he was aiming for the heart, or at least wanted to show that he was aiming for it in order to convince Mugabe that "I would rather die than have it believed of me that I would join the enemies of the president in trying to overthrow him."
One of the people who saw the Air Marshal yesterday at Manyame Air Force Base, where he was treated at the Air Force hospital there, says he also has no doubt that the Air Marshal "tried it on". "He is depressed, that is evident just by looking at him. He is not angry at anybody and did not speak to me about his "assasins". Instead, we talked about the old days at the guerilla camps in Tanzania, he was looking back at his life quite a lot, obsessively, I would say."
Although ZANU PF privately says this was the case, the wounding of the Air Marshal has produced a boon for them. Already, the illegal minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi, has already announced that there is a systematic targeting of the leaderhsip of the country for elimination.
This ties in very nicely with the story of the mutiny, where soldiers have "confessed" how they were bought by the MDC to cause havoc and get the "insurgency plan" rolling. It dovetails with the story that "insurgents are already in the country and carrying out operations". The only way to deal with this is, of course, a state of emergency that would allow the state to deal with the threat to it before you can even hold elections......
But all this is premised on the world's belief that the "mutiny" was real, which belief has already been communciated in countless newspapers and opinion pieces. It was a convincing act and you have all been had. Even now, no newspaper is backtracking on its coverage of the mutiny is real, so we are still on course.
The Air Marshal's case is really an insignificant cog in the wheel, designed only to stregthen the case that there are insurgents in the country. It was not planned, but the fact that it happened now, for reasons entirely internal to ZANU PF, presents the party and government with the opportunity to use it as part of their evidence against the MDC.
Like the "mutiny", the truth in this case has the added advantage of being plausibly deniable: "Oh come one Magora, why would a commander of the air force want to kill himself? Why would be try to shoot himself in the chest and not the head...." Whatever the case, this latest bit of "evidence" of an insurgency will be with SADC quicker than you can say "cooked up."
The pieces are falling into place nicely, don't you think?