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FOLLOWING allegations of plots to ‘illegally’ topple or assassinate him by members of his own party and cabinet, President Robert Mugabe has substantially beefed up his personal security, NewZimbabwe.com has established.

In allegations that have bemused Zimbabweans and beggared belief, Mugabe has claimed that vice president Joice Mujuru and her allies were trying to assassinate him if plans to force him out of office at this week’s Zanu PF congress failed.

And developments over the last four days indicate that Mugabe and those around him have been paying particular attention to his security.

The 90-year-old leader is already one of the best protected leaders in the world, travelling with a cavalcade of anything up to 40 vehicles which was famously mocked by Nelson Mandela.

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But the security measures have clearly been ramped up following the assassination claims with the phalanx of bodyguards travelling with him much bigger.

At Zanu PF’s last politburo meeting on Tuesday, Mugabe did not allow members of the committee, many of them cabinet ministers, to attend with their mobile phones.

“We were told to leave our mobile phones at the reception,” said a politburo member.

The following day Mugabe addressed the ruling party’s central committee members where the same security measures were enforced.

Before the veteran leader arrived at the party headquarters where the meeting was held, the complex was subjected to a thorough search by security details with sniffer dogs.

And, a few minutes before Mugabe entered, Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa carried out a final security check of the entire conference centre.

Mugabe was accompanied by more than 15 close personal security details into the venue.

Members of the gun-totting presidential guard, who are normally left outside buildings, were this time allowed both inside and outside the venue.

Meanwhile, during the official opening of the Zanu PF congress Thursday, a huge security detail littered the whole conference venue.

Central Intelligence (CIO) boss Happison Bonyongwe was the first to conduct a thorough sweep of the high table with delegates already packing the hall.

A few minutes later, Mnangagwa repeated the security check.

“Mnangagwa has taken over the security of Mugabe,” said a government official.

Since allegations of assassination attempts, Mugabe has become suspicious of top members of his party and government.

Those accused with Mujuru, in the alleged attempt to take him out include cabinet ministers Nicholas Goche and Didymus Mutasa as well as the expelled former politburo member and national spokesman Rugare Gumbo.

Source : New Zimbabwe