VISITING Namibian President Hage Geingob has unwittingly exposed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the army’s underhand roles in micro-managing general elections and engineering President Robert Mugabe’s successive, but contentious, electoral victories.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Geingob let the cat out of the bag during a State dinner hosted in his honour by Mugabe on Wednesday night.
The Namibian leader told guests that shortly before his country gained independence in 1990, Mnangagwa, with the help of the military, hosted his team and took them through a two-week crash programme to prepare them on winning elections.
“I came here as director to learn from you on the issue of elections. Without that guidance from you, President Mugabe, it would not have been possible,” he said.
“You told us how they (the former colonial masters) would frustrate us, block our manifestos and do a lot of things.
“For two weeks, I was here and you gave us then (Justice) minister Mnangagwa and the military, who trained us on the elections. When we went back it was difficult, but we won.”
Geingob is a member of Swapo, which has led Namibia for 27 years now, although it has had two of its presidents leave office — namely founding President Sam Nujoma and his successor, Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain 37 years ago, has vowed to stay put, claiming his party still wants him to remain in office, although opposition parties have accused him of electoral fraud.
The 93-year-old Zanu PF leader, who is set to contest elections next year, at one time boasted of having a box full of tricks to win elections, telling the opposition that he had only used one against them.
Opposition parties in Zimbabwe have often accused the military of helping Zanu PF rig elections after seconding some of its staff to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), but Mugabe has denied the charges, claiming he always won because of his “popularity”.
In the 2008 presidential election runoff, which was held after Mugabe lost the first round of the poll to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the military launched a bloody campaign, forcing the opposition leader to pull out of the race citing persecution of
his supporters. At the time, Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s chief election agent.
Zec has not denied the existence of security service chiefs in its ranks, arguing they have long-running employment contracts with the commission that “cannot just be terminated”.
MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora has been at the forefront of calling on Zec to cleanse itself of all traces of army personnel, that were employed in its ranks.
The opposition suffered a heavy defeat in the 2013 election, which they claimed was run by then Defence minister Mnangagwa with the help of the military and a shadowy Israeli company, Nikuv Projects, that currently supplies computer hardware and software to different government departments.
Geingob’s comments could stir a hornet’s nest, as parties gird themselves for make-or-break elections expected sometime in 2018.
Opposition parties are feverishly engaged in negotiations for a possible coalition to present a single candidate to take on Mugabe.