PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has said it secretly arranged security details for visiting former Nigerian President Olesugun Obasanjo who was in the country for the launch of a book he co-authored with opposition leader Tendai Biti last week, the Daily News reported.

This comes as the opposition queried the “appalling” reception given to the African statesman by the Harare government.

On Thursday last week, Obasanjo was one of the key speakers at the book launch held at Sapes Trust in Harare. Eyebrows were raised when he attended the meeting without any State security, with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s security providing security cover and guard.

“This is completely against the norm, we just hosted a former head of State, I am not sure to what extent Biti had informed the authorities but that is neither here nor there,” Ibbo Mandaza, whose Sapes Trust hosted the former head of State, said.

“When the Nigeria community heard that he was coming, they went to receive him at the airport.

“He had an escort from the Nigerian embassy but there was no sign of protocol from the Zimbabwe side. It is ironic that the former president (Robert Mugabe) is the one who called, it however, did not go unnoticed.”

Obasanjo has always had a love-hate relationship with the ruling Zanu-PF and of late he has upped the ante, condemning flawed electoral processes and coups, which incidentally birthed Mnangagwa’s rule.

A top MDC official pointed out that in all countries that Obasanjo had visited launching the book, he has been provided with State security.

Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba took umbrage at the failure by Obasanjo’s hosts to invite State authorities, but said precautionary measures were taken surreptitiously to guarantee his safety once he landed in Zimbabwe.

“We were with him in South Africa. If a former head of state is coming to the country, there are two ways of doing it. If he is being invited by his own interlocutors, those who are inviting him approach the president and the invitation is done through the necessary channels, but knowing Biti as I do, he is not the type of person to do that.

“Having said that, to the extent that he is a head of state of a friendly country, the state immediately gets interested and we were there. That you didn’t see guns means we did our job very well,” Charamba told the Daily News.

Biti told the Daily News that the State was aware of Obasanjo’s visit way in advance but the former Nigerian president was spitefully denied the five-star treatment he deserved.

“The government was informed through the Nigerian embassy, they knew he was coming but it’s only that they are afraid of democracy, that’s why they snubbed him. He is one of the most powerful persons on the continent, that is why I say we have the worst government in Africa, they are tin pots, they are the worst,” fumed Biti.