Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa touched a raw nerve when he chose to use the late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s memorial service to reveal, for the first time, that he was “poisoned”.
NEWS IN DEPTH BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Last Wednesday, a livid President Robert Mugabe confronted Mnangagwa on his return from a two-day trip to South Africa, over the revelations he made in Gutu.
The VP told his audience in Gutu that what happened to Mahofa at the Zanu PF conference in 2015 where she was allegedly poisoned had also happened to him at a rally addressed by Mugabe in Gwanda.
Details are beginning to emerge on why Mnangagwa chose to say what he said that day.
A Zanu PF politician in Mnangagwa’s circle said the VP, tired of being insulted by his foes while he tried to resolve issues in private with Mugabe, made a decision to take the war to those who were fighting him.
“We have come to a point where we advised him that resolving matters in private with President Mugabe, while he was being attacked in public was not in his best interest and he should also fight fire with fire,” said a very close aide.
The fight-back plan was to happen in three phases: the court challenge, which saw Mnangagwa file a $3 million lawsuit against Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, public pronouncements distancing himself from various allegations against him and a detailed response in the politburo.
A family member said Mnangagwa preferred to deal with the burning matters behind closed doors, seeking to clarify issues with his boss instead of going public.
The family member said he also wanted to concentrate his efforts more on reviving the economy by delivering on government duties instead of fighting G40 in public.
“We have argued with the VP on why he always tries to fix things behind closed doors with the president when others take matters into the public and twist and manipulate those issues to their advantage.
“He is once again seeking to clarify issues in private,” said a family member.
He said they were now ready to respond word for word to any attacks directed at Mnangagwa by his foes.
The family is pressuring Mnangagwa to allow his doctors to fly in from South Africa and hold a joint press conference with his family where the toxicology report will be released.
“The medical report is clear that he was poisoned. The doctors made that finding and we wonder why the victim is not being protected,” said a family member.
After public attacks by his critics, Mnangagwa convened a press conference for state media and for the first time, hit hard on his rivals, especially Vice-President Phekezela Mphoko.
Mnangagwa insisted that he was poisoned but stayed clear from the ice-cream narrative, which has seen him being blacklisted by Mugabe.
The VP’s allies want him to press on and respond to his critics because silence will not save him.
“He has to go all out because what Mugabe says in private and how he acts in public are totally different; he tells us not to worry and then when he gets to a rally he attacks the VP,” said a source.
“In Bindura, he discussed politburo matters at a rally, made public allegations against Mnangagwa before giving his deputy a chance to respond. Was it not sensible for him to wait for the response?
“Will Mugabe give the response the same publicity he gave the allegations? Can he guarantee that? I am sure he can’t and it’s only ED who can respond effectively in public.”
Mnangagwa’s response strategy could have changed by now following the fast-paced political events in the past week, but those in his political circles said they don’t want their boss to give in.
“This is the final breath, if we lose, we lose. We are not going to keep quiet, silence has not helped us. In silence he is attacked and if he speaks he is attacked, the difference is the same,” added the source.
Mnangagwa last week said although his doctors had ruled out food poisoning, they had not said he was not poisoned.