London, June 28 : Agents of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe feared security forces, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), are reportedly waging a highly organised campaign to terrify the 4,000 MDC members living in the UK.
It involves surveillance, threats against family members in Zimbabwe, menacing late-night phone calls and bogus messages, saying that fundraising activities are cancelled or disrupted, reports The Independent.
The existence of the campaign was confirmed Friday night by British security sources, who said the targeting of dissidents and MDC members was stepped up in recent weeks as Mugabe sought to maintain his grip on power.
MDC officials said a key target of the CIO operation appeared to be the money - between 5,000 and 10,000 pounds a month, which was being sent from the UK to back Mugabe rival Tsvangirai's campaign until he withdrew from the ballot last week.
With inflation in Zimbabwe running at three million per cent, hard cash is vital to buy campaign essentials such as fuel and printing supplies.
Tendai Goneso, treasurer of the MDC's UK and Ireland branch, said: "It is a highly-organised and co-ordinated campaign to intimidate members and interrupt our ability to send money to support the presidential campaign."
"The money was very important for enabling us to keep Mr Tsvangirai campaigning. We can buy 10,000 litres of fuel each month and send regular consignments of mobile phones, and that is what they are trying to stop," he added.
An investigation by The Independent, corroborated by British security sources, found a range of strategies used to disrupt and coerce Mugabe's opponents, many of them asylum-seekers who feel unable to complain to British authorities.
British security officials said the tactics of Mugabe agents and supporters were similar to those used by other authoritarian states against exiles based in the UK.
However, they underlined that there has so far been no evidence of serious physical assault. Investigations are understood to be under way at Scotland Yard and several other forces, including the West Midlands, following several complaints.