Presidential paranoia

President Robert Mugabe’s paranoia is getting worse after two Australian tourists were held up by police on allegations of treason and dozens of holiday makers were turned away from the Rainbow Towers Hotel during the launch of the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV last week.

Mugabe, who recently celebrated his 88th birthday, wears a bullet proof vest, travels with a hefty security team comprised of soldiers and is transported everywhere in a heavily armoured Mercedes Benz. The president claims that he has the support of the majority, however, the Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri recently warned officers that they needed to be on guard against a potential Egyptian-style uprising.

The paranoia of the aging leader was evident when the police stopped Australians Collin and Judy Smith after they overtook Mugabe’s motorcade enroute to the airport. They were accused of plotting to kill the president. Last Thursday at the Rainbow Towers Hotel, security was so tight for the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV launch that guests were turned away and attendees of the launch were submitted to full body searches from soldiers.

Members of the hotel management who asked not to be named said that Mugabe’s visits to the hotel were bad for business.

“When the president visits business is always low as customers are scared of the tight security that accompanies him,” said one operator.

Ernest Mudzengi, Director of Media Centre Harare, said that such paranoia only abounded in a country where there was instability.

“The tight security is an indication of an unstable political atmosphere. The situation is not stable and this places them in a state of panic. You would never expect that to happen in a country where people are enjoying their rights,” said Mudzengi.

Labour movement activist, LovemoreMatombo, who was last week arrested after staging a demonstration for better wages for workers said that Zanu (PF) did not know who to fear and were therefore suspicious of everyone.

“Zanu(PF) has been in the spotlight since 2000 and does not want people to exercise their rights. Whenever people rise up, they become so suspicious as they are afraid of losing power. They do not know who to fear,” saidMatombo.

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