The level of mistrust in Zanu PF and government seems to have reached alarming levels
after President–elect Emmerson Mnangagwa shocked all and sundry by avoiding stepping onto the red carpet rolled out for him during the Defence Forces Day celebrations on Tuesday.
As he entered the giant 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium (NSS) for the 38th Defence Forces celebrations, Mnangagwa did not use the official red carpet that had been prepared for the first citizen, choosing instead to create his own path parallel to the carpet.
Since June, when the 75-year-old politician escaped a bomb attack at White City Stadium in Bulawayo which killed two security aides and injured one of his deputies Kembo Mohadi, Mnangagwa has beefed up his security.
He recently acquired an armoured Mercedes Benz S-class limousine, complete with all security features to keep its occupants away from any harm.
Over 40 security details surrounded Mnangagwa’s car as he entered NSS on Tuesday to give his speech.
Analysts said the president-elect’s action of avoiding the red carpet rolled out for him betrays his lack of trust on those around him.
South Africa-based academic Ricky Mukonza said it must be borne in mind that Mnangagwa
ascended to power through the involvement of the military and he is fully aware that what happened to his predecessor Robert Mugabe or something even worse could happen to him as those around him position themselves to get power.
Mukonza said after the Bulawayo bomb blast which his spokesperson George Charamba said could be a result of “unresolved leadership crisis” in Zanu PF, there was every reason for the Zanu PF leader to worry about his security.
“This is why the President is extra careful. This is likely to be a permanent feature of his early years as the President of the Republic as he will be working on building a security sector that will be loyal to him and that he can trust,” he said.
“Linked to this, is that ever since the transition, the President has not had a good opportunity to deal with the remnants of the Mugabe era in the security sector. This is a constant source of mistrust for him”.
Government spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo refused to comment on the Tuesday incident saying he was not responsible for security issues.
“Rather talk to presidential spokesperson Charamba,” he quipped.
Mnangagwa rose to power in November last year after deposing former president Mugabe with the help of the military in what many have described as a “soft coup” as it was “bloodless”.
Political analyst Piers Pigou said there was logic in Mnangagwa reviewing his security in the aftermath of the Bulawayo incident.
“I’m not sure why he didn’t use that red carpet though but I suspect it is some kind of security precaution although I did not take notice,” Pigou said.
Renowned political commentator Maxwell Saungweme opined that what is currently happening in the ruling Zanu PF party and government are tale-tell signs of a “system that is imploding from within” and that the president-elect is not in full control any more.
“With what happened at White City Stadium and the long and inexplicable stories about the soldiers that shot protestors in Harare, it is increasingly evident that he (Mnangagwa) might not be fully in control of the levers of state security and might have enemies in both G40 and his junta/Lacoste inner circles,” Saungweme said.
He added that Mnangagwa therefore “ has good reasons to worry and a beefed close personnel security with more men, a new bullet proofed vehicle and inconsistent and unpredictable moves including his avoidance of the red carpet are clear manifestation telling a story about a leader who is more paranoid than before and does not fully trust those around him”.
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