The Sunday News
Darlington Musarurwa, Harare Bureau
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday made contact with a number of Heads of State and Government from the region and continent as part of a diplomatic offensive to apprise them on the situation obtaining in the country in the wake of last month’s opposition-instigated violence.
It is understood that the President also spent the day receiving debriefings from special envoys that had been dispatched to “selected countries” such as Botswana, Zambia and Rwanda, which prompted him to delegate Vice President Kembo Mohadi to stand in for him at a Thank-You Rally in Mount Darwin, Mashonaland Central.
Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) Mr George Charamba yesterday said President Mnangagwa also briefed his peers about his recent four-nation trip to Eurasia “at which a number of projects of a regional, transnational scope were discussed”.
“His Excellency the President, Cde ED Mnangagwa, today, Saturday, (yesterday) spent the day at his Munhumutapa Offices from where he made contact with a number of Heads of State and Government from the region and on the continent. The prime objective was for him to brief his colleagues on the situation obtaining in the country following opposition-instigated violent demonstrations which occurred in the country two weeks ago. He also received reports from returning special envoys he had dispatched to selected countries in the region and on the African continent on the same mission,” said Mr Charamba.
“This year’s opening Ordinary Summit of the African Union, which the President will attend, is scheduled to convene in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in the second week of February. His Excellency the President also took advantage of his contacts with fellow leaders in the region to apprise them on his recent visit to Eurasia at which a number of projects from regional, transnational scope were discussed.
“Because of the above commitments, His Excellency the President delegated Vice President KCD Mohadi to stand in for him at a Thank-You Rally slotted for the same day in Mt Darwin, in Mashonaland Central. The President will still visit and meet with the community of Mt Darwin at a date to be announced by the Zanu-PF Commissariat Department,” he said.
Most notably, when President Mnangagwa met his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on January 17, one of the nine agreements signed was on proposals for a grand infrastructure scheme to prime Zimbabwe as a regional transport and logistics hub.
The grandest of the plans is a road and rail network – being formulated under a tripartite arrangement involving Zimbabwe, Belarus and China – to link the Indian and Atlantic oceans, across Southern Africa and through Zimbabwe.
Cde Patrick Chinamasa – one of the special envoys who was tasked with engaging Sadc chair President Hage Geingob of Namibia, the Sadc secretariat led by Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi — told our Harare Bureau yesterday that the President’s message, which raised Government’s concerns over the violent demonstrations that plagued the country on January 14, 15 and 16, had been “well taken”.
Last month’s violent demonstrations, he said, were “unique” and “worrisome” since investigations had revelead that foreign agents and foreign intelligence services were, for the first time, directly involved through “physically” assisting the demonstrators.
“I delivered the message, a special message from his Excellency the President, to which special message was attached a detailed report on the concerns raised by the Government of Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF, especially that the events of the 14, 15 and 16 of January were unique in the sense that for the first time we find foreign agents and foreign intelligence services assisting the demonstrators, not remotely, but physically, and that is basically a very worrisome development, against which we have to be prepared in case this attempt is again made in the future,” said Mr Chinamasa.
“The messages were well taken. President (Hage) Geingob (the Sadc chair) said he was satisfied with the explanation, so did President Masisi. They also indicated that they have been following the events; they cannot understand why the opposition is not abiding by the law.
They took their matter to court and lost and it is for them to abide by the law and not to continue to challenge the legitimacy of the elections when in fact the court has ruled over the matter,” said Mr Chinamasa.
The two Presidents also pledged to use every platform available to them to call for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe, he said. In particular, President Masisi reportedly raised concern on the targeted looting of Choppies, a company founded by Botswana nationals and is listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange.
President Geingob was in Gaborone, Botswana, last week for a scheduled visit of the regional bloc’s Secretariat. It is standard practice for the chair of Sadc to visit the Sadc Secretariat headquarters during his or her tenure. The Namibian President became Sadc chair on August 17 last year during the 38th Sadc Summit of Heads of State and Government that was held in Windhoek, Namibia.
According to Cde Chinamasa, who is also secretary of finance in the ruling party Zanu-PF, the regional leaders were also briefed that the violent demonstrations that affected the country last month were part of a “continuum of events” that had been observed before, during and after the country’s July 30 harmonised elections.
The demonstrations, he added, were the clearest indication that the MDC-Alliance, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and other civil society organisations who are all funded by the West had coalesced “in a very serious determination to effect regime change”.
The efforts, however, were blunted by law enforcement agents.
“Firstly, during the election campaign, while our President was preaching peace, stability, harmony and economic prosperity for our country, Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti and others were preaching the gospel of violence and announcing, as you are aware, that unless he is declared elected President – even before campaign had started – he would spoil the party. To use his own words “anokanda majecha musadza”. “That is the genesis. Also prior to the elections, Nelson Chamisa and Biti went and met the US authorities to ask them to continue the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe; therefore, clearly indicating that their strategy, along with the Americans, is to make the economy scream so that Zimbabweans may rebel against their Government,” he said.
He also noted that the August 1 violence, which happened when votes were still being counted, was part of a sequel of a pre-determined plan to try and make the country ungovernable. Zambia is the current chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and is deputised by Zimbabwe, while Rwanda President Paul Kagame is the AU chair.