23 January 2016

Zimbabwe: President Back From Vacation

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and the First Lady Grace Mugabe.

Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter PRESIDENT Mugabe and the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe arrived home last night, quashing false media reports that the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces had suffered a heart attack while on his annual leave in the Far East.

They were welcomed by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Service Chiefs, Cabinet ministers and other senior Government officials.

The President is expected to meet Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who is here on a three-day working visit to consult President Mugabe ahead of the 26th African Union General Assembly later this month.

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President Mugabe is the African Union chairperson, having assumed office at the 25th Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January last year.

President Mbasogo, who touched down at Harare International Airport yesterday, was welcomed by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, several ministers, other senior Government officials and service chiefs.

Minister Mumbengegwi said the visit by President Mbasogo demonstrated the strong relations that existed between the two countries.

"You know our two leaders (Presidents Mugabe and Mbasogo) work closely together," he said.

"In this respect you know that President Mugabe is the chairperson of the African Union and the Summit of the African Union is due towards the end of this month and therefore the two leaders have found it necessary to get together on a three-day working visit in order to consult on the various issues which they anticipate will come up during the Summit.

"This is a mutual consultation meeting of the two leaders considering that the two countries enjoy extremely close relationship."

The West African country is expected to hold presidential elections this year but the dates are yet to be proclaimed.

President Mbasogo received a fresh mandate to represent his party-Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea at its third extraordinary congress in November last year.

At the 2013 Parliamentary and municipal elections, President Mbasogo's party won 54 of the 55 contested seats in the Upper House and 99 seats of the 100 contested in the Lower House.

At the last presidential elections in 2009, President Mbasogo took over 95 percent of the votes.

Relations between the two countries scaled to greater heights in 2004 after Zimbabwe intercepted a group of mercenaries that wanted to overthrow President Mbasogo's Government following discovery of vast oil deposits.

The strong relations between the two countries has also seen Zimbabwe training security officials from Equatorial Guinea.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces last November deployed a training contingent to the Equatorial Guinea to train that country's military officers on operational and logistic matters following an urgent request by the West African country.

The ZDF also deployed military personnel to provide security at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in January last year.

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