Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko has accused his colleague, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, of disrespecting President Robert Mugabe and fanning tribal politics by claiming that he was poisoned at a Youth League Interface Rally in Gwanda, Matabeleland South Province.
In a hard-hitting statement, Mphoko said Mnangagwa’s remarks captured by the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation were lies designed to take his succession battle to higher levels.
Mnangagwa was quoted as saying, “I was not around when she (late minister Shuvai Mahofa) passed on but what happened to her in 2015 in Victoria Falls also happened to me in Gwanda.”
Mphoko hit back noting that “… Mnangagwa’s latest claim that he was poisoned in Gwanda cannot go unchallenged not least because everyone can see that it is a calculated - after thought - challenge to President Mugabe’s public account that Mnangagwa’s medical doctor ruled out poisoning as the cause of Mnanganwa’s traumatising vomiting and diarrhoea in Gwanda.”
Mphoko said Mnangagwa’s statement that he was poisoned when his medical doctor has authoritatively said he was not is disappointing.
“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 said Mnangagwa’s remarks are contrary to what was relayed to President Mugabe by the vice president’s doctor about his illness in Gwanda.
“Over the weekend, and apparently using the background of unproven but persistent allegations and claims that the late national heroine Shuvai Mahofa was poisoned at the Zanu PF People’s Conference in Victoria Falls in 2015, VP Mnangagwa told an emotionally charged memorial service for Cde Mahofa in Gutu that what happened to her in 2015 in Victoria Falls, is also what happened to him on August 12 in Gwanda.
“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.”
At the Gweru Presidential Youth Interface Rally, President Mugabe revealed that he met with Mnangagwa’s medical doctor in the presence of Mnangagwa and the doctor, who has been attending to Mnangagwa for 20 years, told the president that his long standing patient had not been food poisoned.
“It will be recalled that on the eve of the Midlands Presidential Youth Interface Rally held in Gweru on September 1, 2017, Vice President Mnangagwa issued a statement categorically stating that he did not eat any ice cream in Gwanda. This was after widespread false claims that he had been poisoned after allegedly eating ice cream from Gushungo Dairy.
“Vice President Mnangagwa’s Gutu claim that he was poisoned in Gwanda on August 12, 2017 is surprising in 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.”
VOA Studio 7 was unable to get comment from Mnangagwa, who was not responding to calls.
Two camps, one allegedly led by Mnangagwa called Team Lacoste, and another one said to be led by Mrs. Grace Mugabe, are reportedly fighting over the succession of 93 year-old Mugabe, who will contest the 2018 presidential election at the age of 94.
The two have already dismissed reports that they are leading factions saying they don’t habor any presidential ambitions.