Mnangagwa speaks out

VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa has cleared the air on statements attributed to him allegedly confirming that he was “food poisoned” in Gwanda.

Moses Matenga/Valentine Maponga

He was responding to a statement by VP Phelekezela Mphoko blasting him and accusing him of undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe by confirming that he was food poisoned in Gwanda during the Presidential youth interface, just like the late national heroine Shuvai Mahofa was “poisoned” in Victoria Falls during the national people’s conference in 2015.

But Mnangagwa told journalists in Harare that he was misquoted by state broadcaster and accused Mphoko of commenting on a misquoted speech at the memorial service of Mahofa in Gutu, Masvingo province.

He described Mphoko’s statement as malicious, false and meant to create a rift between him and the First Family after he was quoted in a statement accusing Mnangagwa of fuelling tribal tensions and disrespecting President Mugabe in his “emotionally-charged” address.

Mphoko, in his statement alleged that Mnangagwa had told the Gutu gathering that he was poisoned in Gwanda and also described Masvingo as a “sovereign state.”

In the statement Mphoko said: “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 Mnangagwa’s traumatising vomiting and diarrhoea in Gwanda.”

In his detailed response, Mnangagwa reiterated his loyalty to President Mugabe and the party, blasting some elements within the ruling party of trying to create chaos.

“It is indeed factual that l fell ill in Gwanda and was airlifted to Gweru and then to Harare before subsequently being airlifted to South Africa. I never said that I was poisoned in Gwanda but that I fell ill in Gwanda.

“Equally, the late national heroine, Cde SB Mahofa fell ill during the 15th national people’s conference of Zanu PF held in Victoria Falls in 2015. She was taken to hospital in Zimbabwe and subsequently to South Africa. Therein is the extent of similarities of events which I alluded to during my address,” he said.

He said his medical team briefed President Mugabe that he was poisoned but was not food poisoning.

“It is disappointing that a person at the level of my colleague VP Mphoko would misunderstand and misrepresent the statements made by His Excellency, the President Cde RG Mugabe, and myself.”

“It is further disconcerting that the statement is littered with subjective falsehoods, mischievous perceptions malicious innuendos written in a language and tone which is disrespectful and contemptuous to my person and indeed to the office that I occupy,” added VP Mnangagwa.

He reaffirmed his commitment to President Mugabe and the ruling party saying: “I have an impeccable history of unflinching loyalty to the party and His Excellency, the President, Cde RG Mugabe and have never acted in a manner that undermines his authority.”