Two people are being held by Harare police after a group of angry protestors stormed a five-star Harare hotel demanding that Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko who has been staying there for more than a year at taxpayers’ expense to leave his lodgings after incurring a bill of more than $1 million.
Some placard-carrying protestors drawn from the National Vendors Union, Restoration of Human Rights and a pressure group calling itself Team Tajamuka besieged a Harare Hotel where Vice President Mphoko has been booked in at the expense of the state since his appointment in 2014.
During the protest, the vice president, who has declared that he will not vacate the hotel, was marooned in his 17th floor hotel room with his family.
One of the protestors, Ishmael Kauzani, tells Studio 7 that it was being insensitive for Mphoko to live a luxurious life at the expense of taxpayers when most Zimbabweans were finding it difficult to survive.
Kauzani’s sentiments sentiments were echoed by Value Dick Mgagara who says the money that is being used to settle the Vice President and his family’s hotel bills could be put to better use instead of squandering taxpayers’ money on luxury.
The demonstrators who carried placards into the hotel’s reception and foyer scared some guests who ran in different directions as anti-riot police who arrived in four lorries in no time shut all the doors and arrested Stan Zvorwadza who leads the National Vendors Union and another unidentified activist who appeared to be leading today’s protest.
Other protestors tried to block the main exit of the hotel yard when a truck that Zvorwadza and another activist had been bundled into demanding their immediate release but they were assaulted by the police resulting in them running different directions.
The two activists were later released without charge.
Police spent the better part of the day maintaining a heavy presence at the hotel.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba told Studio 7 by phone that authorities would not allow lawlessness and urged anyone intending to demonstrate to notify police first.
Meanwhile, the MDC led by former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai also issued a statement condemning the deputy president’s continued stay in the hotel.
The main opposition party said it was shameful that vice president is occupying a presidential suite at the hotel at a minimum cost of US$430 per day to the national treasury when Zimbabweans are faced with grinding poverty and the government cannot pay its workers.
A local independent newspaper quoted some un-named government sources this week as saying Vice President Mphoko had refused occupancy of two houses that had been secured for him by the state saying they were not fit for a person of his stature. One of the houses was said to be worth $3million which Mphoko’s wife is reportedly saying is not designed to her liking.
Studio 7 failed to get a comment from the Vice President whose mobile phone went unanswered.