VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko’s recent conduct is not only shocking, but also unacceptable and shameful. Mphoko, who is the acting president, this week stormed Bulawayo Central Police Station to express his anger over the arrest of several Zanu PF activists in connection with the violence that rocked the party’s provincial office at Davis Hall on Sunday.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
Mphoko and his aides allegedly drove into Bulawayo Central Police Station’s courtyard and interrogated the officer-in-charge and Law and Order boss for nearly 20 minutes.
If this was the only time that the Vice-President has tried to interfere with the law, Zimbabweans could regard it as just bad judgment on his part. However, abusing his position as acting president or vice-president seems part of Mphoko’s habit.
Last July, he stormed Avondale Police Station in Harare to demand the release of his “boys”; Zimbabwe National Roads Administration acting chief executive Moses Juma and non-executive director Davison Norupiri. The duo had been arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission on allegations of defrauding the parastatal of US$1,3 million.
After police rebuffed his telephonic demand that the two officials be released, Mphoko, who at the time was also acting president, drove to the station, pompously declared he was vice-president of the country and “not of a co-operative or burial society”, subsequently forcibly signing out of custody the two officials.
In October last year, the vice-president also allegedly blocked Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo’s arrest by Zacc. Moyo was accused of siphoning over US$400 000 meant for the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund.
As if to imply that certain elites were legally untouchable, Mphoko arrogantly bragged at a rally in Norton last October that: “We will not allow our members from Zanu PF to be arrested.”
Such proclamations ring hollow to public pronouncements by President Robert Mugabe and his deputies, Mphoko and Emmerson Mnangagwa that no one is above the law. What is instructive about these disgraceful incidents is that Mphoko interfered with police investigations in his capacity as acting president.
That a whole acting president barges into police stations interfering with investigations buttresses the notion that the law of the jungle reigns supreme in Zimbabwe.
How can we even begin to talk about restoration of the rule of law when leaders continue to get away with bullying the police and bending the law to suit his demands? Should we remind him that it is only Mugabe who is immune to prosecution?
Mphoko’s conduct, since his appointment as vice-president in 2014, has been nothing short of scandalous and a far cry from what is expected of someone who is second in command. Mphoko’s behaviour is not only an abuse of power, but also a violation of the laws of Zimbabwe. In other countries, such misconduct would result in dismissal from office or forced resignation.
In a statement in May last year, he said people are free to call him “rotten” if there is any evidence to that effect. We are more than happy to oblige.