HARARE - Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly used a private jet by owned by South African multi-millionaire arms dealer to fly to Dubai for a private meeting with President Robert Mugabe — but he was, however, jettisoned by the ever presence of First Lady Grace Mugabe who allegedly did not give him a chance for a one-on-one with the 91-year-old, the Daily News can reveal.
As details surrounding the embattled VP trip to Dubai emerge, the Daily News was told by authoritative sources that a South African millionaire Ivor Ichikowitz — who is involved in arms dealings — provided the jet but it was not clear at the time of going to press yesterday why Mnangagwa decided to use the controversial businessman’s plane.
Mnangagwa, who has lately been on the back-foot as a faction opposed to his presidential ambitions plot his downfall, travelled to Dubai reportedly for clear the air talks with Mugabe, who is currently enjoying his yearly sabbatical.
The Daily News was yesterday told that Mnangagwa sought and was granted a meeting with Mugabe following widespread reports in government that there were plans by the nonagenarian to replace him with senate President Edna Madzongwe, as Zanu PF seeks to fulfil the woman quota mandate.
But his plans for a private chat with Mugabe were in vain, as the influential Grace was by her 91-year-old husband side around the clock, according to sources close to Mnangagwa.
And instead of the much hoped for tête-à-tête — the bruised Mnangagwa could only be invited for a family dinner, on a table he shared with his wife, and the First Family.
“There was no chance for the VP to be alone with the President as the First Lady was all over the show, the two families ended up having dinner and exchanging pleasantries. Grace made sure that his husband rested and does not discuss politics with Ngwena (Mnangagwa).
“She frustrated Mnangagwa to an extent that the whole thing ended up being a joke because it was like a whole VP had flown in a private jet to have dinner with the First Family,” the impeccable source told the Daily News.
Grace is supported by the the ever scheming Generation 40 (G40) faction that has stepped up pressure to derail Mnangagwa’s chances of ever succeeding Mugabe, who turns 92 on February 21 next month.
And the acting president, whose offices were on Wednesday broken into, even posed for pictures in the private jet owned by Ichikowitz, owner of Paramount Group.
According to his website, “Ichikowitz is a life-long proponent of Africa and its people and his interests stretch from local community initiatives to international trade and development. He believes that the continent has the potential to become an important global economic power. Over the last two decades he has been an active investor, employer and entrepreneur building numerous successful businesses across the continent.
“Since the early 90s he has proudly supported initiatives that promote transformation and nation building in South Africa. He was active in the anti-apartheid struggle and has openly supported the African National Congress.”