APPARENTLY fearing for his life, President Robert Mugabe last week rejected the use of Sadc vehicles during the just-ended 33rd Sadc heads of state and government summit held in Lilongwe, Malawi, citing security reasons, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Sources said Mugabe was paranoid and did not want to accept a Sadc-hired Mercedes Benz because most European countries enjoy good relations with Malawi so chances of an ambush by locally based agents were high.
Upon his arrival at Kamuzu International Airport on Friday evening, Mugabe blasted the West for refusing to accept his victory and opted to use his official Zim 1 limousine sent to Malawi by road, arriving a day before the summit.
Sources said Mugabe, who is already heavily guarded, has escalated his security after the July 31 polls were disputed amid allegations of rigging and irregularities which the MDC-T failed to prove in court arguing lack of supply of crucial material from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission it needed to prove its allegations.
“Mugabe does not want to risk his safety, especially after the controversy surrounding the elections,” the source said. “The West were in the forefront in refusing to accept the elections results and this raises security concerns especially when one is out of his country.”
Malawi enjoys cordial relations with the West since President Joyce Banda took over from the late Bingu Wa Mutharika making Mugabe feel insecure because of their presence.
A senior Malawian government official said Banda ordered that all ministerial vehicles (Mercedes-Benzes) be rented to the regional body for heads of states while fleet vehicles in the ministries were for other duties.
The Malawi government also flighted an advertisement for ordinary people with vehicles in excellent condition to apply and supply them for use by the regional bloc’s delegates.
An outcry over the US$1,3 million used for hosting the Sadc summit was awash in the private media in Malawi with much of the budget going towards the hiring of vehicles.
Despite shock displayed by the Malawian officials, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said there was no need for alarm as the president “always” used his official car for regional engagements.