EQUATORIAL Guinea’s long-time President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was recently re-elected for a sixth term in office, extending his 43-year rule by seven years.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who like Obiang came to power through a coup, attended the inauguration. Obiang funded the later former president Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF elections in the past.
He was the only foreign leader who visited Singapore where Mugabe died in 2019. Mnangagwa’s trip to Obiang’s inauguration raised the spectre of him following in Mugabe’s footsteps in more than one way, including fundraising for elections.
Obiang seized power from his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema in 1979, and executed him. Now his son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is the country’s Vice-President, entrenching his political dynasty. Obiang had become Mugabe’s ally since the then Zimbabwean strongman helped him thwart a coup by British Special Air Services mercenary Simon Mann in 2004.
Obiang was going to be removed and killed by Mann and his band of soldiers of fortune, according Mann. On 28 July 2004, Mann, a British citizen, was found guilty of trying to buy dangerous weapons from Zimbabwe to overthrow Obiang.
Mann, together with others, was arrested on 7 March 2004 in Harare, where their aircraft landed en route to Equatorial Guinea.
Upon landing at Manyame Air base in Harare, the pilot failed to declare 60 hitmen on board in addition to himself, the co-pilot, and navigator. From Zimbabwe, Mann intended to procure arms to equip the mercenaries to oust the government Obiang, and install Severo Moto, the leader of the opposition in Equatorial Guinea.
Mann was tried and jailed in Zimbabwe. He also eventually stood trial in Equatorial Guinea and was imprisoned there too. In 2009, he was released after serving 15 months of the 34 year sentence. In a shock twist to the dramatic story, Mann then became Obiang’s security adviser.
Equatorial Guinea, a small oil-rich African nation in Western part of the continent, has one of the worst human rights records on the continent, overseen by the longest-serving dictator. In a continent infamous for repressive and brutal dictatorships, it is among the very worst.
Yet Mnangagwa proudly attended Obiang’s inauguration, proving birds of a feather flock together. The Western African country is enormously wealthy, thanks to its vast oil reserves, but that the resources are concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite around Obiang.
Most Equatorial Guineans wallow in grinding and crushing poverty, with little or no access to decent social services. In terms of having a resource, Equatorial Guinea has parallels with Zimbabwe. — STAFF WRITER