President speaks on ED's health

HARARE – Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s health is not yet permitting him to attend public and national events, President Robert Mugabe said yesterday.

Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned in Gwanda while attending a Zanu PF youth interface rally.

Speaking at the joint burial of Moudy Aloisia Muzenda and George Rutanhire at the National Heroes Acre yesterday, the nonagenarian leader said Mnangagwa had requested time off work.

The VP was conspicuously absent at the burial yesterday.

“Mnangagwa, we were with him but he told us, he has not fully recovered and will not be able to come to the Heroes Acre. His doctors told him that he must not strain himself at this juncture. He went home to rest,” Mugabe said  

Government claims the vice president — seen as the most likely official to take over from Mugabe in the event that he leaves office — consumed “stale food”.

Mnangagwa’s family and allies insist, however, that the vice president was poisoned by rivals.

He had to be hospitalised in South Africa for nearly a week following his alleged poisoning two weeks ago.

While he is now back in the country, Mnangagwa is still to resume his official duties.

Mnangagwa was, according to witnesses, vomiting and suffering from stomach cramps while the Zanu PF leader was addressing thousands of party supporters during the Gwanda gathering.

He had been among top government officials who attended the official opening of Jahunda Community Information Centre by Mugabe on the sidelines of the Gwanda rally before he joined other dignitaries for the Zanu PF youth interface rally held at Pelandaba Stadium but fell sick 40 minutes into Mugabe’s speech.

Meanwhile, Mugabe told mourners yesterday that he was exasperated with increasing claims of witchcraft in Zanu PF.

“There was unity, not what we are seeing today. This is not the Masvingo we knew. We hear they even identify witches and wizards.

“We now hear that even the president is one. This is coming from Masvingo and Midlands. Ah, why now when we came all the way? We don’t have wizards in Zanu PF, we only have people who lose party ideology.

“We were worried and are still worried by lack of ideological knowledge. You hear people, someone has fallen sick and they say aroiwa (has been bewitched). That’s lack of ideological knowledge.

“A leader akarwara anonzi aroiwa, ah, when did this start! Technology is advanced and we encourage people to go for constant checkups. Certain diseases attack. The bodies are not ours,” he said.

In May this year, the late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa claimed that Zanu PF was full of witches saying she only survived by the grace of God after she claimed that she was bewitched in the run up to the 2014 party’s national congress that was held in Victoria Falls.

Addressing the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial coordinating committee at the Showgrounds, Mahofa said the witches in Zanu PF tried, but in vain, to kill her.

“Muno (Zanu PF) makazara varoyi. Makandiroya muviri nemakumbo asi uruzvi hwangu hwuchi kushanda. Munoziva zvamakandiita as nhasi ndiri pano (There are a lot of witches here; you bewitched me but I thank God my brain remains functional; here I am and still going). I am even more powerful than ever,” said Mahofa, who was buried at the national shrine last week.

Mugabe himself claimed in his birthday speech in 2015 that sacked former vice president Joice Mujuru roped in Nigerian witches in an attempt to topple him and other bigwigs such as his wife, Grace and Mnangagwa.

The nonagenarian claimed then that 10 chickens were slaughtered, each representing who Mujuru — now leader of opposition National People’s Party (NPP) following her sacking from Zanu PF in 2014 — wanted to have killed.

Staggeringly, Mugabe claimed that Mujuru performed the alleged rituals while “topless with breasts hanging”.

Mujuru, however, denied Mugabe’s claims.

The veteran politician was hounded out of Zanu PF in the run-up to its Congress in 2014 — together with party stalwarts such as former Cabinet minister Didymus Mutasa and ex-spokesperson and minister Rugare Gumbo — over untested allegations that she wanted to topple Mugabe.

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