HARARE – After escaping an assassination attempt in June this year, President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa has tightened his security, including splashing over US$1 million in acquiring an armoured Mercedes Benz S-Class limousine, the Daily News can report.
The luxurious limousine is complete with all the security features which do not take away its comfort.
Since he came to power through a popular coup last November, Mnangagwa has completely replaced former president Robert Mugabe’s security aides.
Instead of surrounding himself with security from the Police Protection Unit, which used to guard Mugabe and his family, Mnangagwa has reposed faith in soldiers, who helped him ascend to power.
While officiating at the Heroes Day on Sunday, Mnangagwa set tongues wagging after his vehicle entered the National Sports Stadium swarmed by security details in excess of 40.
Now he has gone a step further by acquiring a new Mercedes Pullman limousine with upgrades estimated at US$300 000.
Both Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba and the minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Simon Khaya Moyo, were not available for comment yesterday.
The Daily News, was, however, there when Mnangagwa’s new beast arrived at the Robert Mugabe International Airport on Thursday when the president-elect was leaving for the Southern African Development Community summit being held in Namibia.
Namibia University of Science and Technology lecturer Admire Mare said Mnangagwa has every reason to beef up security in the aftermath of the Bulawayo bombing incident that killed two people.
Mnangagwa also revealed recently that he now knows the identity of people behind the Bulawayo bombing and would deal with them once he clears the legal hurdles that have thus far stopped his inauguration.
“I think it shows the president-elect has realised that his life is in danger. Remember, there is still discord amongst some Zanu PF supporters about the way he ascended to power. Even if you look at the number of security details around him, especially during the recent Heroes Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium, one can tell it’s no longer business as usual. At the start of his reign, he wanted to sell the image of a listening and accessible president but now it seems that has been replaced by an inaccessible and securitised president,” said Mare.
The discord in Zanu PF was demonstrated in the July 30 elections when in some constituencies Mnangagwa would lose the polls while his aspiring Members of Parliament comfortably cruised to victory.
The Zanu PF leader has also previously alluded to plans by some of the elected MPs to impeach him.
Insiders said a witch-hunt was already underway in Zanu PF to sniff out the “traitors”.
Professor of World Politics at the London School of Oriental Studies Stephen Chan said the Zanu PF leader, just like any world leader, requires the best when it comes to comfort and security.
“The Queen of England, the United States President, and many other leaders have bullet proof limousines. There is nothing abnormal in this. It will become Nelson Chamisa’s if he wins the court appeal and any second round. It is a lesson learned from the Bulawayo bombing,” said Chan.
In April, Mnangagwa’s security was breached during a Zanu PF youth interface rally in Gweru after a losing candidate tried to grab his hand while he was on stage.
In December last year, barely a month into his presidency, a bogus gun-toting man claiming to be a State security agent allegedly breached Mnangagwa’s close security on two occasions last, only to be picked up by alert members of the military police after he positioned himself too close to him.
Gathry Chiredzero, who is now facing charges of illegal possession of a firearm, impersonation and forgery, was arrested by alert soldiers on December 6 last year while trying to disguise his identity by controlling the movement of people at the function of renaming King George Barracks to Josiah Magama Tongogara at which Mnangagwa was officiating.
Two days before, he had allegedly used the same modus operandi and gained entry into State House, where Cabinet ministers were taking oaths of office before Mnangagwa.