The government reportedly tasked the American public company it hired to patch its image to Washington last year to “engage in an intense campaign” to project the MDC T leader Thokozani Khupe as the legitimate leader of the opposition in Zimbabwe, ZimLive exclusively reports.
The campaign reportedly started last year in September well before the Supreme Court declared her the legitimate MDC T leader in April.
According to the publication, the lobbyists, Mercury Public Affairs LLC were planning to host Khupe in the US between 25 and 27 March under the POLAD banner before the trip was cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
A former US Senator for Louisiana, David Vitter who is the co-chairman of the lobbying company is believed to be spearheading the project of projecting Khupe as the legitimate opposition leader.
Vitter reportedly emailed Senators and Congressmen pleading with them to give Khupe an audience and went on to project POLAD as a reform vehicle President Mnangagwa’s government had put in place.
Part of the letter Vitter wrote in his campaign to the senators and congressmen says:
It is a truly diverse and representative delegation comprised of 17 of the political parties of Zimbabwe. As such, it represents the vast majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens as well as the vast majority of opposition parties, including leaders who put their lives on the line fighting for the ouster of the former tyrannical president Robert Mugabe.
Another letter Vitter wrote to Tibor Nagy, a US diplomat for Africa, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Industrial Policy Jennifer Santos and Under Secretary Brent McIntosh from the US Department of Treasury Office of International Affairs reads in part:
That’s why the delegation is so eager to meet with you to share information on recent and important anti-corruption efforts in Zimbabwe, concerns about China’s recent dominance of the African continent and the impact of United States sanctions.
In another letter Vitter wrote to Senators Jim Risch, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chris Coons who also sits on the Committee, Khupe said they were representing the majority of Zimbabwe in seeking to mend the relationship between Washington and Harare:
Zimbabwe’s population is approximately 14.6 million and about 4.8 million people voted in the 2018 harmonised election, leaving about 9.8 million people who did not vote. As these 17 political parties, we are not only representing those who voted but we are representing the entire population of Zimbabwe.
According to the publication, a diplomat in Washington described Mercury’s work on behalf of Khupe as unusual.