WHILE focus has been on Obert Mpofu's gathering of immense wealth and mounting speculation of where he could be getting his money from, the Mines minister has been quietly building his political stature in Matabeleland.
Mpofu's vice-presidential ambitions are the worst kept secret, as three years ago, he made a show of challenging John Nkomo for the top post, but was dismissed as being too junior.
Now with reports of Nkomo's ill-health, Mpofu must fancy his chances against Zanu PF national chairman, Simon Khaya Moyo for the top post.
Recently, Mpofu challenged Kh-aya Moyo head on in the party's politburo meeting, accusing the chairman of using the state media to discredit him.
Khaya Moyo reportedly shot back, accusing Mpofu of using the private media to tarnish his image, but Oppah Muchinguri reportedly interjected, saying it was known that the two were positioning themselves for the vice-presidency.
There's no love lost between Khaya Moyo and Mpofu, as they have publicly clashed, particularly with the administration of Matabeleland North Province.
But on the whole, Mpofu has been working assiduously, laying his path for a shot at the country's second top post.
But Mpofu reckons what he is doing has been part of his political repertoire for years.
"That is your view, I am doing my usual political business. There is nothing different from what I have been doing all along," he said, before hanging up his phone.
Recently, he followed President Robert Mugabe's footsteps, holding a meeting with Zanu PF prodigal son, Enos Nkala, whom he visited at his home in Bulawayo.
Why Nkala is suddenly popular among Zanu PF stalwarts remains a mystery, but the former Finance minister was formerly very critical of Mpofu, although he now seems to have toned down.
While unleashing his charm offensive, Mpofu invited Vice-President Joice Mujuru to his Umguza constituency last week, where he showered her with praises and also spoke at length about how much support Zanu PF had in the constituency, leaving observers to speculate that he was building key alliances to cement his place as Nkomo's successor.
Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is reportedly seeking to succeed Mugabe, was a high-profile figure at Mpofu's party six months ago, as senior Zanu PF politicians continue to beat a path to the Mines minister's constituency.
Mpofu has set Umguza as his base to launch his bid for the presidium, claiming he is one of a few senior members from Zanu PF to have been elected from Matabeleland, meaning he should have a better chance of getting the top post, ahead of Khaya Moyo.
To prop up his brand, Mpofu has also overseen the launch of a self-praise album titled Khulumani elikufunayo (you can say whatever you like).
Mpofu also has gone the populist route by pouring money into Highlanders Football Club. The club is a relic for the people of Matabeleland, and this way he hopes to sway the naysayers to his cause and position himself in the event of any election.
Mpofu defected to Zanu PF from Zapu before the 1987 Unity Accord and he is often treated with suspicion among his former colleagues.
Political analyst, Effi Ncube also said it was evident that the former Matabeleland North governor was trying to move up the ladder in Zanu PF.
"It is very clear from his behaviour that he thinks he is mature enough to climb the ladder in Zanu PF," he said.
He concurred with Nkomo that Mpofu's lucre gave him a slight upper hand over his opponents.