Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s motorcade was at it again, this time leaving one dead and injuring scores of others.
The accident which was the third fatal one involving the veteran ruler’s motorcade in a month, occurred on Sunday when he was travelling from his rural village.
Zimbabwean police blamed the accident on the passenger omnibus driver for not giving way quick enough for the president to pass.
So what is it in a presidential motorcade since Mugabe is not alone here and does it really offer the protection that they need? And who are they afraid of?
Well, it might offer protection from their own citizenry, though I am not condemning our leaders for spending a fortune on extravagant presidential motorcades.
In Kenya, we all know when President Mwai Kibaki is traveling. Anytime he is traversing Nairobi and its environs, much of the capital would be roped off with traffic stopped for half an hour before he turns up. Moreover, several police officers would be seen pacing by the roadside.
Longest in Africa
Former Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi's motorcades was reportedly one of the longest in Africa. A typical motorcade accompanying Mr Moi consisted of at least 50 limousines with Cabinet ministers, heads of state corporations, security chiefs and several diplomats who tagged along wherever he went, in an attempt to win the old man's favour.
In Uganda, it is even worse when President Yoweri Museveni travels to the countryside. Apart from mean looking black mambas brandishing their guns from armoured vehicles, several cars are usually seen snaking the highway followed by armoured personnel carriers and a large silver Mercedes truck with a mobile lavatory. And woe unto you if you are a mobile phone subscriber if President Museveni visits your neighbourhood. This is because mobile-phone signal dies when he arrives. The man from Rwakitura in western Uganda could be having some kind of a jammer in one of his escort vehicles.
In western Africa, Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been spotted with three four-wheel-drives from the Special Security Service, two pickup trucks from the Liberian national police, and an off-roader carrying Nigerian troops, just in case.
In southern region, Swazi royal convoy carrying King Mswati III can be up to 20 armoured cars long.
However, the ousted Egyptian President could beat them all since his escort included scores of cars and 10,000 policemen standing along the route as sharp shooters stood on the rooftops and security helicopter circled above, according to a report on the Economist. Some newspapers reported that Mubarak’s escort included 950 vehicles!
As others spend a fortune on motorcades, Rwandan President Paul Kagame manages a small convoy - his car, two land cruisers carrying his body guards and a third vehicle clearing traffic.
In as much as the presidents ought to be protected, they could borrow a lesson or two from Mr Kagame, me thinks.
This is because the extravagant motorcade creates a picture of how most leaders are afraid of their own people. However, one question remains, do such motorcades keep our leaders safe?
Last year, a homemade bomb exploded on a highway in Antananarivo as Madagascan leader Andry Rajoelina's convoy drove past. It caused no damage, perhaps ‘missed its target’ due to wrong timing.
One security expert told Economist that a rocket-propelled grenade or roadside bomb was all that was needed to stop those escort vehicles, irrespective of how armoured they were.
Thereafter, small fire arms may be needed to complete the mission. So, if the protection could only be achieved through using a long convoy, so be it.
But such protection must be reasonable, bearing in mind that most of their subjects wallowed in poverty.
Well, now you know that your president is so afraid of you.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Twitter: JanetOtieno