Under-fire Zimbabwean leader at pains to douse poll ‘rigging’
HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has lined up private meetings with SADC leaders during his US excursion amid signs of an attempt to hush wide condemnation over the manner with which he was re-elected last month.
The Zimbabwean leader flew a private jet hired from Swiss company, Comlux with a bloated delegation of over 75 people for the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
His delegation includes an advance team and was joined in New York by another group led by Foreign Affairs Minister Frederick Shava that flew Mnangagwa’s private jet to Cuba earlier for the G77 summit.
Mangwana said Mnangagwa “will be making his National Statement in the UN on Thursday 21 September 2023 between 3PM-3.45 Zimbabwean time” and will be “the 5th leader to address on the day”.
On the sidelines of the UN session, according to government spokesperson Nick Mangwana, Mnangagwa will meet South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), Hage Geingob (Namibia), João Lourenço (Angola) who is SADC chair, and others.
Mangwana did not reveal the object of Mnangagwa’s meetings with SADC leaders although there are signs the under-fire Zimbabwean incumbent was keen to lobby his regional peers to ignore a damning SADC election observer mission report which signalled foul play in his widely discredited re-election.
The SADC election observer mission said in its report that Zimbabwe’s election was fraught with poll irregularities and did not meet regional and international benchmarks governing the running of credible elections.
The report, together with those of EU and other observer missions, has become a major basis for wide calls on SADC to step up and use its influence as a regional bloc to remedy Zimbabwe’s drawn-out crisis.
Zimbabwe’s opposition CCC has been demanding a rerun of the poll with SADC expected to take the lead to deal with its delinquent neighbour’s endless political problems which continue threatening to spiral into a regional crisis with South Africa already feeling the heat through an influx of undocumented Zimbabweans spilling into its territory.
Many regional leaders did not attend Mnangagwa’s inauguration as the storm brewed over his controversial election.
Meanwhile, as has become the norm, Mnangagwa flew a delegation of over 75 people with his US excursion set to chew US$2 million from the country’s depleted coffers.
The US General Assembly has emerged as a bonus moment for government ministers and functionaries often favoured with fat cheques in travelling and subsistence payouts. — ZimLive