Zanu-PF sweats over Mnangagwa's safety

 Zanu-PF sweats over Mnangagwa's safety
Published: 16 December 2018
As the Zanu-PF conference gets off in earnest in Esigodini today, security agents are stressing over the safety of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his top aides - as the ruling party converges there for its annual end of year get-together, the Daily News can report.

This comes as investigations into the June 23 Bulawayo bombing - in which Mnangagwa narrowly escaped an apparent attempt on his life when an explosion rocked a Zanu-PF rally that he was addressing at White City Stadium - have seemingly hit a dead end.

That explosion killed two of Mnangagwa's close security aides, while also injuring scores of other people.

Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that they had put in place "very tight security" for the Zanu-PF conference.

"We deployed our teams there a week ago … and we have the whole area covered," he said, without going into details.

Well-placed sources said security agents - including police, heavily armed military personnel and intelligence operatives - were working "around the clock" in a desperate bid to avoid a repeat of the White City Stadium incident.

"Both the party and government are on tenterhooks as this conference gets under way because the president has in the recent past had multiple attempts on his life.

"As a result, security agents are not leaving anything to chance in Esigodini, remembering that twice now - while he has been in Matabeleland - there have been attempts on his life.

"It is for these reasons that his safety is a very big issue to all concerned, and people are advised to behave themselves well at this conference, in their own interest," one of the sources said.

"It is in this light that elaborate security measures have been put in place to make sure that number one (Mnangagwa) and all the other delegates are safe. Everything there is being scrutinised very closely, from the aircon gas, fluids and food meant for the president and other VIPs.

"The security forces have and continue to do all they can to make sure that everyone who is attending the conference is safe," the highly-placed source added.

Another insider said so anxious were authorities that security agents were constantly "combing the venue and its surrounding areas" - including using drones and sniffer dogs.

"When ED (Mnangagwa) officiates at the conference, all mobile phones will be out of reach within the radius of the venue, while motorists and travellers on the busy Bulawayo to Beitbridge highway will have to contend with several security roadblocks," the second source said.

Political analysts said the extraordinary security measures at the Zanu-PF conference showed that internal tensions were still high in the ruling party, with Mnangagwa remaining at risk of attacks.

"This suggests that there are security threats ... and I think this is more of enemies within the party because one would expect that as Zanu-PF is meeting as a family, security would be relaxed, with delegates interacting freely.

"They (security forces) thus want to make sure that people with certain agendas will not succeed. They want to avoid another Bulawayo incident.

"Interestingly, we have still not been told about the findings of the Bulawayo incident, which may mean that they have failed to make headway on the matter, or that the issue is sensitive," University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said.

Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said the elaborate security arrangements at the Esigodini gathering had "clearly been deemed necessary" given the June 23 bomb attack.

"It's in line with ED's security profile since the White City bombing. He has become more paranoid, necessitating  heavy security around him," Saungweme said.

At the height of Zanu-PF's deadly tribal, factional and succession wars, Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned by his political foes at a youth inter-face rally at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda, in August last year.

This saw him falling seriously ill and subsequently being airlifted to Johannesburg for emergency treatment.

Describing that incident later, Mnangagwa said he survived death by a whisker thanks to the timely intervention of one his current deputies - Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga - who organised a helicopter to rush him to Gweru military hospital, where doctors recommended his immediate airlifting to South Africa.

"After two days of being unconscious … they (his doctors) said the level of poisoning was very high, something like 31 percent. It was reduced in six days down to 11 percent.

"And I had something like three to four hours of life (had I not been immediately rushed to South Africa). I would have died of cardiac failure.

"The research which was done by various doctors in South Africa, in Australia and other places ... where the tests were done, called it metal poisoning - arsenic metal poisoning. And they narrowed it as to where it could have come from.

"My last review says the level of poisoning in my system is now under three percent," Mnangagwa said as he revisited the incident during an interview with CNN in September.

The 76-year-old Zanu-PF leader later narrowly escaped the June 23 bomb when an explosion rocked a Zanu-PF rally that he was addressing at White City Stadium in Bulawayo - killing two security aides and injuring scores of other people.

The explosive device, suspected to be a hand grenade, went off moments after Mnangagwa had just stepped off the stage - seriously injuring his other deputy, Kembo Mohadi, and senior Cabinet minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, as well as a host of other people.

Both Mohadi and Muchinguri-Kashiri were later airlifted to South Africa for specialist treatment.
- dailynews
Tags: Zanu-PF,


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