President Robert Mugabe yesterday waded into the controversy that followed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sudden illeness, saying some Zanu PF leaders are now accusing him of witchcraft.
BY VANESSA GONYE/ XOLISANI NCUBE
Mnangagwa was a fortnight ago airlifted from a Gwanda rally that was being addressed by Mugabe after he started vomiting and had severe diarrhoea.
He was subsequently treated in South Africa amid claims by Zanu FP supporters that he was poisoned.
An intelligence report presented to Mugabe during a politburo meeting to decide late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s hero status recently, claimed some Zanu PF bigwigs alleged Mnangagwa ate poisoned ice-cream from the first family’s Gushungo Holdings.
Speaking at the burial of two national heroes, Maud Muzenda and George Rutanhire in Harare, Mugabe yesterday lashed out at Masvingo politicians for claiming Mnangagwa was poisoned or bewitched.
“During the armed struggle, we never had weak cadres like what we are seeing today,” he said.
“This is not the Masvingo tradition that we know. Now the talk of witchcraft is the order of the day.
“Some are even saying the president is a witch, how many did I kill?” Mugabe asked.
“We have travelled a long journey together and why kill today?
“This is coming from Midlands going to Masvingo.
“So if you have your witch doctors who are telling you about being bewitched, down with your witchcraft issues.”
Mugabe revealed during the double burial that Mnangagwa had to leave early after body viewing at Stodard Hall in Mbare as he was not yet fully fit.
He said it was normal for people to fall sick even those in top leadership.
“During our days, we never knew that someone had been bewitched,” he said.
“People can go and consult witch doctors but use your own beliefs against people.
“It is common to be sick. We often hear that when a leader falls sick he would have been bewitched, no!
“When did this culture of accusing other people of witchcraft start?
“That’s why we say please, please go to doctors and hospitals for constant check-ups.”
Last week youths from Midlands chanted slogans suggesting that the VP had been poisoned while pointing a finger at the rival G40 faction which is said to aligned to the first lady, Grace Mugabe.
Meanwhile, Mugabe told mourners that Mnangagwa had a frosty relationship with late Vice President Muzenda.
He said Muzenda was forced by Mnangagwa, among others, to relocate from Midlands to Masvingo.
“Muzenda came to me saying ‘the guys from Midlands’ are chasing us,’ and I asked who in particular? And he said ‘Emmerson and his team’,” the veteran ruler said.
Mnangagwa is the political godfather of Midlands and has support in Zanu PF structures in Masvingo.
Mugabe said during the Muzenda era, Masvingo supported the armed struggle but the culture had changed.
“This is not the Masvingo that we know. Masvingo should be ashamed along with the likes of (Josiah) Hungwe. Their support to the struggle was number one.
“It had people who were straightforward unlike these days. It is not the tradition of the Masvingo that we know.
“Now they are busy seeing witchcraft and recently I asked Hungwe why he was failing to solve the problems in the province now everyone is being accused of being a witch even the president is now a witch.”
Hungwe is seen as Mnangagwa’s biggest ally in Masvingo.
The 93 year ruler lamented the unprecedented number of deaths that his party has experienced in recent months saying he is now lonely as his peers were long gone.
Muzenda’s widow died last Tuesday after a long illness while Rutanhire who was a politburo member died last Saturday in Mashonaland Central province due to renal failure.