VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko’s house-hunting has come to an end after securing a property in the posh Gunhill suburb in Harare amid reports however that neighbours are being forced to move to enhance his security, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Government sources say Mphoko, who rejected several homes in affluent suburbs in Harare, finally settled on a house in Gunhill suburb which is also home to fugitive former Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam, but some of his neighbours will have to move to make his stay comfortable.
Government officials said those moved would be given a flat fee to be determined by government as compensation for their relocation regardless of the different values of the properties.
“The vice-president has finally settled for a house in Gunhill whose address we cannot divulge for security reasons,” said a senior government source.
“Three families whose houses are in close proximity to Mphoko’s house will have to move as a way of enhancing security.
“They will receive a yet to be determined flat amount of money as compensation and this is an issue which is not negotiable.”
The source added that there was nothing untoward about the relocation of neighbours as Mphoko is a VIP who deserves maximum security.
This contrasts with the late vice-president John Nkomo’s lifestyle. Nkomo lived a modest lifestyle with his neighbours in a double-storey house in the Milton Park suburb of Harare which was at the corner of a busy road, diagonally opposite Old Hararians Sports Club.
Even President Robert Mugabe had to back down after his plans to evict neighbours in Borrowdale Brooke in 2006 met stiff resistance.
Mphoko, who was appointed to the vice presidency along with Emmerson Mnangagwa in December after the dismissal of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, recently grabbed the headlines after his wife Laurinda rejected three houses, among them a mansion in Harare’s affluent suburb of Ballantyne Park worth US$3 million, claiming that it was too small.
In just 47 days up to January 30, the couple raked up a US$18 800 bill at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare, where he has been staying since his appointment. Their stay in the luxurious hotel cost US$400 per night.
Mphoko is also said to have rejected properties that were formerly occupied by late Vice-Presidents Joshua Nkomo and Joseph Msika in Harare’s affluent suburb of Mandara on the grounds that they wanted a new house of their own.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba referred questions on the house to the Local Government ministry, saying it is the responsible authority.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo did not respond to repeated calls to his mobile phone yesterday.