By Blessed Mhlanga
Zimbabwean Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who was in Japan when the military took control of the levers of power on Tuesday last week, is reportedly making plans to seek refuge in either Zambia or Mozambique as he fears arrest if he returns home.
This came to light as President Robert Mugabe tendered his resignation with the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda yesterday, just as the two Houses of Parliament — Lower and Upper — were moving a motion to impeach the outgoing 93-year-old leader.
Highly-placed sources said Mphoko, who had return tickets purchased by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), had approached a travel agency seeking to alter his itinerary.
“He was supposed to be back in Zimbabwe by Friday from Tokyo, Japan. But through the OPC, he has requested that his tickets be changed so that he lands either in Zambia or Mozambique. We know he fears arrest because he is wanted for obstruction of justice and corruption,” the source said.
A highly-placed source in the OPC said Mphoko was expected to join his family, which has already left the country and is currently holed up in Botswana, where the VP has business interests.
Meanwhile, Sport, Arts and Culture minister Makhosini Hlongwane and Tourism deputy minister Anastasia Ndlovu were yesterday said to have contacted sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa so that they could smoke the peace pipe with him.
Ndlovu is reported to have reached out to fired Midlands provincial youth chairman Edmore Samambwa pleading for his intervention in saving her from possible arrest.
Samambwa confirmed the overtures, saying he was baffled that a minister was approaching a person who was fired from the party.
“I don’t know how she thought I could help her, but a minister who had Mnangagwa’s ear before he was fired asking me to talk to shefu (Mnangagwa) so that she can’t be arrested, how does that work? In any event, anyone with a crime should face the music,” he said.
Hlongwane reportedly made overtures to Mnangagwa’s trusted allies seeking for a pardon over his attempts to vilify the Midlands godfather, saying he was a young person who was used in the heat of things.
“He asked me to tell Mnangagwa that he was sorry for allowing himself to be used by the G40 cabal and because he was a young naïve politician, he fell for the trap,” the source said.
Hlongwane rose through the ranks to Midlands provincial political commissar with the help of Mnangagwa, but dumped his benefactor as factional fights took centre stage in Zanu-PF.
Government spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo would not respond to questions on the fate of Mphoko and the two ministers, saying he was locked up in meetings./NewsDayZimbabwe