Poi­son­ing sus­pected af­ter Mnan­gagwa be­comes ill

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - PETA THORNYCROFT

RUMOURS were swirling around Zim­babwe late on Sat­ur­day that Vice-Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa be­came ill at a youth rally ad­dressed by Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe in Gwanda.

Ap­par­ently, he was flown to hos­pi­tal in South Africa on a Zim­babwe air force plane.

One of his close po­lit­i­cal as­so­ciates, Josiah Hungwe, was also re­port­edly ill.

Well-con­nected sources in Zim­babwe say Mnan­gagwa might have con­tracted food poi­son­ing ear­lier on Sat­ur­day.

Oth­ers, con­cerned at the fac­tion fight­ing within ZanuPF about who will suc­ceed Mu­gabe when he dies or steps down, spec­u­lated that Mnan­gagwa had been poi­soned.

This drama – play­ing out on un­of­fi­cial me­dia late on Sat­ur­day – comes af­ter a dif­fi­cult week for Mnan­gagwa af­ter a Face­book site, known as First TV, pub­lished a 72-minute pro­pa­ganda video com­piled by one of Mnan­gagwa’s en­e­mies, Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Jonathan Moyo.

Moyo, backed by first lady Grace Mu­gabe and Zanu-PF po­lit­i­cal com­mis­sar Saviour Ka­sukuwere, ap­pear to de­test Mnan­gagwa.

The video footage

Re­cent video con­tains al­le­ga­tions

cre­ated by jour­nal­ists who pre­vi­ously worked for Moyo on state­con­trolled news­pa­pers make al­le­ga­tions against Mnan­gagwa. The video made many ac­cu­sa­tions against Mnan­gagwa and was re­cently pre­sented to the Zanu-PF polit­buro. Mnan­gagwa has not re­sponded to the al­le­ga­tions.

He has long been ac­cused – along with Mu­gabe and one or two other cur­rently serv­ing min­is­ters – of be­ing be­hind the mas­sacres of thou­sands of op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers from 1983. The op­po­si­tion was then led by lib­er­a­tion war hero Joshua Nkomo, who had to es­cape Zim­babwe at that time to avoid be­ing as­sas­si­nated.

Many cab­i­net min­is­ters have been ac­cused of vi­o­lence over the years. Mnan­gagwa, who has served Mu­gabe one way or an­other for more than 50 years, was se­cu­rity min­is­ter dur­ing those mas­sacres in Mata­bele­land from 1983-1987.

Mnan­gagwa and some col­leagues within Mu­gabe’s present cab­i­net are also ac­cused of vi­o­lence against the op­po­si­tion Move­ment for Demo­cratic Change, which saw hun­dreds killed and thou­sands tor­tured and ar­rested, es­pe­cially in the first eight years af­ter it was launched in 1999.

Many busi­ness­men in Zim­babwe say pri­vately they would like to see Mnan­gagwa suc­ceed Mu­gabe as leader be­cause they say he un­der­stands busi­ness.

Some say he has been en­riched by pri­vate deal­ings in gold and other min­er­als. But all min­is­ters, in­clud­ing Moyo, are widely ac­cused of var­i­ous acts of cor­rup­tion. – For­eign Ser­vice

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

DRAMA AT RALLY: Zim­bab­wean Vice-Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa has many en­e­mies.

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