An unprecedented rift among President Robert Mugabe’s two deputies has reportedly unfolded, with Phekezela Mphoko accusing Emmerson Mnangagwa of undermining the president’s authority by alleging he was poisoned at a political rally in August.
In a statement, Mphoko alleged that Mnangagwa was also using his poisoning scare to cause tribal divisions for political expedience within the ruling Zanu-PF party, reported New Zimbabwe.com.
He added that Mnangagwa’s claim was a “calculated” challenge to President Mugabe’s “public account that Mnangagwa’s medical doctor ruled out poisoning” as the cause of his “traumatising vomiting and diarrhoea” experience at the August 12 rally.
“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,” Mphoko was quoted as saying.
This comes after reports that Mnangagwa opened up for the first time on his food poisoning scare.
Speaking at one of his allies’ memorial service in Masvingo over the weekend, the vice president was quoted as saying that he was indeed poisoned, but would not divulge further details. He added, however, that he was recovering.
“I have come to tell you that what happened to Mai (Shuvai) Mahofa in Victoria Falls is what also happened to me. I am making tremendous recovery.
“Those who wished me dead will be ashamed because when God’s time for one to die is not up, he will not die. I still have many years to live and the truth will come out,” Mnangagwa was cited as saying.
Mahofa, who died months ago, was the provincial affairs minister for Masvingo and a key Mnangagwa ally. She was allegedly poisoned at a Zanu-PF annual conference at Victoria Falls.
Mnangagwa’s loyalists accused his “Generation 40” rivals within the ruling Zanu-PF party of poisoning him in a bid to physically eliminate him from the race to succeed Mugabe, 93.
Last month, Mnangagwa issued a statement denying reports that he had eaten ice-cream from the Mugabe-owned Gushungo Dairies when he fell ill at the Gwanda rally, but did not say anything at the time regarding his alleged poisoning.
Mnangagwa, who reportedly leads a faction calling itself “Team Lacoste”, is battling against “Generation 40” – of which Mphoko is believed to be a member – to take over power from Mugabe when the nonagenarian dies or leaves office.