ZimLive has reported that an unidentified man was grabbed and slapped by state security agents on Thursday after shouting “Huya pano iwewe” in the direction of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The incident reportedly happened just after Mnangagwa had finished a tour of exhibition stands at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and was walking to the Office of the President and Cabinet pavilion.
ZimLive further reports that the man walking in the periphery of the VIP party shouted “huya pano iwewe!”, a forceful way of saying “you, come here!”
Mnangagwa was in the company of his deputy Constantino Chiwenga and a group of security guards.
A ZimLive correspondent who witnessed the incident says it was not clear who was the target of the shout, or if Mnangagwa heard him.
A uniformed police officer grabbed the man and slapped him once. He was joined by Mnangagwa’s plainclothes close protection officers who led the man away.
In the disorder which was over within seconds, Mnangagwa continued walking and chatting, appearing unperturbed.
There were immediate questions about whether the man – who is dark-skinned and appeared to be in his 30s – has mental health issues.
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One of the organisers of the ZITF said:
I didn’t see the incident myself, but I can tell you that security was very tight today because the president was coming, and in any case, the ZITF has only been open to exhibitors, government officials, emergency workers and the media so far. Someone with mental health issues is very unlikely to have made it through.
Many people have in the past been arrested for “insulting” or disrespecting the president.