Mugabe, Nguema’s shadowy cash deals

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe seems to be increasingly relying on Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for financial bailouts that are not always in the public domain, but have been filtering in the media of late.

Wongai Zhangazha

Mugabe, who is expected to travel to the oil-producing country over the weekend for an African Union meeting on Ebola, a follow-up on the United Nations meeting held in New York last week, will be Nguema’s guest.

Nguema has been bankrolling the Mugabe regime for sometime, often helping him out in critical times. There are reports that Mugabe and Nguema could have joint businesses in various sectors of the economy as they have been often met without clear details of their closed discussions being released.

A reliable source told this newspaper that whenever Mugabe visits Equatorial Guinea, his delegation is usually given some gifts and trinkets to carry home.

Mugabe was recently in Equatorial Guinea after attending Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration in Abuja on May 29 where he was ambushed by a group of Sahara Reporters.

The President, who is well-known for using farming inputs and implements to drum up support ahead of elections in 2012, launched the controversial US$20 million Presidential Farming Inputs Scheme, that exclusively benefitted Zanu PF supporters before the 2013 elections. It later emerged that the agricultural input scheme had been bankrolled by Nguema.

Nguema also bailed out the Zimbabwe government between 2006 and 2007, when the country was being ravaged by hyperinflation by providing a fuel importation facility of US$220 million. The debt forms part of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s US$1,3 billion debt.
In January Nguema asked Mugabe for a security team comprising of police officers and soldiers to help counter terrorism when Equatorial Guinea hosted the African Cup of Nations.

The team provided VIP security, intelligence and helped to man key institutions. Equatorial Guinea met all the expenses of the team.

Mugabe’s friendship with Equatorial Guinea’s authoritarian ruler came after Harare helped thwart a coup plot by a group of mercenaries led by former British Special Air Services officer Simon Mann in 2004. Mann was later extradited to Equatorial Guinea and released from there.