29 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Mphoko Told to Leave Bots, Ex-VP Begs Mnangagwa for Mercy

Photo: The Herald
Former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and former president Robert Mugabe (file photo).

Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko could soon return to Zimbabwe after he was reportedly given assurances that he was free to do so and after he was given up to December 1 to leave Botswana by Ian Khama's government.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information George Charamba said Mphoko had spoken to President Emmerson Mnangagwa by telephone asking to return.

"Former Vice President Mphoko spoke to the President and was assured that he is free to return to Zimbabwe and contribute to the rebuilding of the nation," Charamba told the state media.

He added, "Like any other Zimbabwean, he is free to come home and assist in growing the economy and the country. Hopefully, he will be making his way home soon."

Mphoko, a member of the G40 faction which backed then First Lady Grace Mugabe, left Zimbabwe on an official visit to Japan on November 14, a day before the coup during which the army said it was "targeting criminals around" former President Robert Mugabe.

Instead of returning to Zimbabwe Mphoko went to Botswana where he was once Zimbabwe's ambassador. Mphoko's Choppies supermarkets also has interests in Botswana.

According to state media, "highly placed sources" said the "Botswana government had given him up to December 1 to leave their country and return to Zimbabwe, but the former VP had been reluctant to do so fearing arrest for corruption-related crimes".

Reports said Mphoko has been living in a State residence in Gaborone.

He was expelled from Zanu PF on the day Mugabe was fired as the ruling party leader by the Central Committee. He was accused of divisiveness and of acting in a manner not befitting the Vice President.

Soon after then co-VP Mnangagwa was fired by Mugabe, Mphoko appeared on TV excited encouraging Mugabe to replace him with Grace adding that he (Mugabe) needed not be ashamed of elevating his wife.

Mphoko further added that he needed a new colleague as he was "lonely" following the expulsion of Mnangagwa.

On appointment in 2014, Mphoko made headlines by repeatedly claiming that Mugabe was not involved in the 1980s killing of the civilians in Matebeleland adding the genocide was a British "conspiracy".

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