Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday said he was justified to order the release of Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) executives from police custody, arguing their arrest was unprocedural.
Addressing a Zanu PF inter-district meeting at Davies Hall in Bulawayo yesterday, VP Mphoko said he went to a Harare police station in July last year and ordered the release of then Zinara acting chief executive officer Eng Moses Juma and board chairman Davison Norupiri who had been arrested on allegations of abuse of office and fraud because he believed they had not committed any crime.
“I was accused of being a corrupt leader myself; they said I kicked doors and cells ordering the release of corrupt officials. Juma is a devout Christian. He was corruptly arrested. People want to take over top posts and they want to bring in their corrupt relatives who steal from government. We do not want that.”
VP Mphoko added that he also intervened in the case involving the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Prof Jonathan Moyo.
He also added his voice on calls for President Mugabe to name his successor, following similar sentiments by the First Lady, Dr Amai Grace Mugabe, while addressing the party’s Women’s League recently.
Dr Mugabe repeated the call during the Mashonaland West Presidential Youth Interface Rally last week.
“The First Lady is right. The President should be part of the solution to problems going on in the country with regards to who will succeed him. He should do it well and quietly through the structures. He knows how to do it, he is mature and will do it well,” said VP Mphoko.
He said naming a successor will ensure that there is peace and order when the President leaves office.
“We agreed way back that Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu should not swallow each other, we said when Zapu is in leadership a person from Zanu-PF should deputise him or her and vice versa,” said VP Mphoko.
He said the ruling party had managed to remain united because of that arrangement and encouraged members to continue with that legacy that was left behind by the late VP and Father Zimbabwe Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and other leaders who have passed on.
VP Mphoko said those who were keen on playing the tribal card in leadership positions of the party should never be entertained.
“If you think the President is there because he is Zezuru then you are lost. He is there because he is a leader, so was VP Nkomo. We now have people who are saying since the President is Zezuru, the next President should be Karanga. We never fought for that. That is wrong. Those that are pushing this agenda are lost, we will follow what we have always been doing,” he said.
“We do not work on tribal grounds, those that want the Presidency based on whether they are Karanga, Ndebele or Vitori can go to hell,” he said.
The VP also said Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees Minister Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube should not support war veterans chairman Cde Chris Mutsvangwa and his crew.
“Cde Tshinga you were right but do not include (Victor) Matemadanda and Mutsvangwa in your issues. If you lean on those two you will fall for sure.
We want those two to come for dialogue but if they do not want, do not force them, let them be,” he told Rtd Col Dube, who was also in the meeting.
“We cannot support people to behave like Mutsvangwa and Matemadanda, so I encourage you Cde Tshinga to panel-beat your issues regarding these two people. You are one of us together with George Mlala. Fix these things now and do not get lost,” he said.
Cdes Molly Mpofu, Eva Bitu and Angeline Masuku were also not spared by the VP as he said they needed to shape up.
“Take my reprimand with maturity, I am not belittling you Cde Molly and others. Let us mould the party. We have heard many complaints especially about Cde Bitu, this should stop. Mashaba (Elifasi), however, is lost, let him be. Those that want dialogue should come through, we are there to listen to them. Do the right thing,” said VP Mphoko.
VP Mphoko said party members and other leaders should desist from saying the two VPs – himself and Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa – have “followers”.
“I have no people, there are no people who belong to or support me, people are behind the President. VP Mnangagwa does not have people too. We should stop this allocation of people to the two VPs, we all belong to the President, the late Nkomo, JZ Moyo and so on,” he said.
He took time to applaud Bulawayo Province for having stood their ground and not speaking ill about the National Political Commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere.
“Well done Bulawayo for not denouncing Cde Kasukuwere, thumbs up on that one. You never made noise or demonstrated against him like what other provinces did. They tried and failed to remove Cde Kasukuwere.”
The VP also said Bulawayo Province must start preparing to host President Mugabe during the Presidential Youth Interface Rally which will be held in the city on a date to be advised.
VP Mphoko further said the recent visit by former South African president Cde Thabo Mbeki to the country was not about succession but about regional investments.
Cde Mbeki was in Zimbabwe last week and met President Mugabe, and some sections of the media speculated that Cde Mbeki had visited to discuss succession issues in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, VP Mphoko paid his condolences to the family of the late national hero, Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu at their Luveve 4 home in Bulawayo yesterday. He was accompanied by his wife Laurinda.