FIERY First Lady Grace Mugabe on Wednesday confronted under siege Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a tense Zanu PF politburo over claims he was recently poisoned at the party’s youth interface rally in Gwanda.
By Elias Mambo
This comes as senior ruling party officials said Mnangagwa failed to respond to a series of damaging allegations made against him by Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo, who is also Higher and Tertiary Education minister, at their last meeting on July 19.
On Wednesday, Grace grilled Mnangagwa over why he had kept quiet until last Thursday when his supporters and social media activists claimed he was poisoned by state actors or the Mugabe family through ice-cream from the debt-ridden business Alpha Omega Dairy (Pvt) Ltd.
“Grace confronted Mnangagwa over the poison issue; she demanded to know why the vice-president had kept quiet for a long time when social media activists and his supporters suggested he was poisoned purportedly by the First Family or his colleagues (Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Health minister David Parirenyatwa),” a senior politburo member said.
“She also said Mnangagwa failed to rein in his allies and has also not come out clean up to this day in public on whether he was poisoned or not. Mnangagwa did not answer her directly, but disowned his supporters and basically threw them under the bus, hence the expulsions, demotions and suspensions.”
The biggest casualty was Mnangagwa’s most vocal supporter — Energy Mutodi — who was expelled for claiming Sekeramayi poisoned the vice-president.
A number of other officials were demoted, suspended or retained in the party.
Grace said Mnangagwa’s backers wanted to ruin her Gushungo Dairies brand through the poisoning theory for political reasons. Mnangagwa has distanced himself and denounced those who insinuated he ate ice-cream from the Mugabe dairy business, although he did not say whether or not he was poisoned.
Mugabe last Friday came out at a rally in Gweru to say Mnangagwa was not poisoned, indicating he was told that by his doctor. Government has also said he was not poisoned. However, his supporters insist he was.
As the Zimbabwe Independent first accurately reported on June 23, Mnangagwa was put in the Zanu PF politburo dock and grilled on July 19 by bitter rival Moyo — together with his G40 Zanu PF faction led by Grace and supported by Mugabe himself — who is baying for his blood.
Mnangagwa is battling it out with Sekeramayi, who is backed by G40, to succeed Mugabe.
Moyo confronted Mnangagwa in a fierce battle royale with charges of factionalism and divisive succession manoeuvres at the July 19 explosive meeting using a smart board — an interactive board that uses touch detection for user input like a normal personal computer device — to show a video.
Sources said top of the agenda in the build-up to the politburo meeting this week was Mnangagwa’s response to Moyo’s allegations, but no one raised the issue.
“Everyone expected Mnangagwa would respond to the issues raised in the previous politburo meeting, but the vice-president did not respond,” said the source.
Mnangagwa is still expected to respond to the allegations in future meetings.