THE race to replace the late Vice-President John Nkomo has taken a new twist with Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa refuting claims by Ambassador Phelekezela Mphoko that he and Retired Brigadier General Ambrose Mutinhiri were the only surviving Zipra founder members.
Richard Muponde, Senior Reporter
Mphoko, the former Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa, recently made the claims when he threw his hat into the ring for the Vice-President’s post saying among the 15 former nationalists who formed Zipra, it was him and Mutinhiri who were still living.
However, Dabengwa yesterday rejected Mphoko’s claims and said there were a number of former Zipra founder commanders who were still surviving including himself.
“I am not sure in which context he was saying that. There are a number of Zipra cadres who were in command positions who are still surviving. For example, Abraham Nkiwane is still surviving. There is also Nyathi. So really I am not sure in what context he was saying that. I am here and I am also surviving,” Dabengwa said.
Mphoko has joined the race to replace Nkomo, a position which is also being eyed by Zanu PF’s national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo.
Last week, ex-PF Zapu female cadres said Zanu PF’s December elective congress should not stray from the existing precedent of elevating the party national chairman to the vice-presidency, while Transport minister Obert Mpofu called for an open race saying reserving it for certain individuals was undemocratic.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has also contributed to the debate saying President Robert Mugabe would have the final say in the choice of VP.
There is feeling among some Zanu PF cadres that precedent has already been set which has seen the party’s national chairpersons landing the post following the death of Joshua Nkomo in 1999.
The late VP Joseph Msika and Nkomo landed the vice-presidency after stints as Zanu PF chairmen.