Thursday 5 October 2017


ACTING President Phelekezela Mphoko, and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa openly traded barbs, as 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s succession wars reached a tipping point yesterday.

Mphoko, in a hard-hitting statement released on Tuesday night, accused Mnangagwa of undermining Mugabe’s authority and trying to destabilise the country by fanning ethnic tensions for political expediency.

But Mnangagwa immediately shot back at Mphoko yesterday, declaring his counterpart was neither qualified nor competent to comment on his medical reports, since he was neither a doctor nor his employer.

In his statement, Mphoko warned Mnangagwa against undermining Mugabe by claiming that he was poisoned at the Gwanda rally in August, when his doctors had dismissed the poisoning claim when they met the President.

“It must be said that Mnangagwa’s statement that he was poisoned, when his medical doctor has authoritatively said he was not, is disappointing,” Mphoko said.

“There’s now little doubt, if there ever was any, that there appears to be an agenda to undermine the authority of President Mugabe and to destabilise the country by using lies to fan ethnic tensions for political purposes.

“This must stop and do so sooner rather than later.”

Mphoko’s statement came after ZBC ran a story on Mnangagwa’s Gutu rally address.

“Reference is made to a ZBC report that Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said for the first time in public that he was poisoned in Gwanda on August 12, 2017; the day of President Mugabe’s youth interface rally in Matabeleland South,” Mphoko wrote.

“Contrary to his statement, his medical doctor, while briefing President Robert Mugabe in the presence of Mnangagwa, confirmed that Vice-President Mnangagwa was not poisoned.”

Mphoko’s uncharacteristic statement followed Mnangagwa’s claims at the weekend that he was poisoned at the Zanu PF Gwanda youth interface rally, which led to his airlifting to South Africa for medical attention.

Mnangagwa was addressing party supporters at the memorial service of the late national heroine, Shuvai Mahofa, on Saturday.

Mahofa’s family has openly claimed that the late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister was poisoned in Victoria Falls at the Zanu PF conference in December 2015.

Mnangagwa, in a terse response, said Mphoko had no authority to comment on his health issues.

“If that statement is his, he is neither competent nor privileged to comment on my health because he is neither my doctor nor my employer.

“Therefore, there is no need to dignify the statement with a response,” he said.

Mnangagwa’s claims he was poisoned where seen as contradicting what Mugabe told party supporters at a Midlands rally weeks after the former returned from South Africa, where he was treated after being airlifted from the Gwanda rally.

Initially, Mphoko’s statement was not on a government letterhead, but later, officials from the Vice-President said a new letter had been drafted and was ready for collection.

“Yes, it is a legitimate statement,” Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga, the Minister of State in Mphoko’s office, said, before revealing that the original one was prepared in a “hurried manner”.

Mphoko alleged in his statement that Mnangagwa and Mugabe had publicly ruled out that the Vice-President had been poisoned, something Information minister Christopher Mushohwe corroborated.

“Vice-President Mnangagwa’s Gutu claim that he was poisoned in Gwanda on August 12, 2017 is surprising in the light of the public record on the matter.

“No one else other than Mnangagwa himself confirmed this position at the last Zanu PF central committee meeting held on September 8, 2017, where he emphatically said he was not poisoned.

“This was after he made the same disclosure to the politburo the previous day,” Mphoko said.

“In view of the above, Mnangagwa’s latest claim that he was poisoned in Gwanda cannot go unchallenged not least because everyone can see that it is a calculated afterthought to challenge President Mugabe’s public account that Mnangagwa’s medical doctor ruled out poisoning, as the cause of Mnangagwa’s traumatising vomiting and diarrhoea in Gwanda.”

Mnangagwa’s close relative said it was shocking that Mphoko had feigned serious lack of understanding of simple English.

“Mnangagwa was poisoned, it was not food poisoning. There was a foreign substance injected into his food, the food itself was not stale and it was not toxins from the food, this is what President Mugabe said in Gweru, it cannot be Mnangagwa’s fault that Mphoko cannot understand English,” the family member said.

Mugabe, in his public statement, disclosed that Mnangagwa had not eaten stale food and dismissed claims his deputy had been poisoned by Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Health minister David Parirenyatwa as alleged by the Vice-President’s ally, Energy Mutodi. Newsday


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