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Food poisoning fears rock Zanu PF

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ZANU PF has been rocked by fears of plots to poison officials in rival factions, as the succession conundrum within the ruling party turns nastier, NewsDay has learnt.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA/OBEY MANAYITI

While officials denied any knowledge of such plots, reports claimed that Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa and former Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson Mike Madiro were hospitalised on suspicion of food poisoning at the recently-ended party’s 15th national people’s conference held in Victoria Falls.

Zanu PF secretary for Youth Affairs Pupurai Togarepi last night said Mahofa had been discharged from hospital, but professed ignorance over the nature of her ailment.

“I just heard that she is at one of her children’s house, she is safe. I have not talked to her personally so I wouldn’t want to speculate on how she is feeling,” Togarepi said, adding that he was also not privy to information regarding any form of food poisoning.

This followed social media reports that went viral at the weekend, claiming Mahofa had been hospitalised because of the poisoning, contrary to the official line that she was down with malaria.

Mahofa’s daughter Nyengeterai also said: “She is out of hospital. She is actually watching TV. I don’t know about those allegations and I am truly surprised by that. We, the children, don’t know of the alleged food poisoning.”

Shuvai-Mahofa

Part of the social media reports that went viral on WhatsApp read: “Mahofa has been unwell after being poisoned, following her criticism of First Lady Grace Mugabe and her province (Masvingo)’s historic rebellion against the First Family.

“The development comes after Mahofa attacked Grace Mugabe and her province led the only and most humiliating resistance against the First Lady, forcing the cancellation of her campaign rally before the conference. Mahofa told Vhitorians (people of Masvingo) that a woman should not rule the nation while men are there.”

Amid the claims, a senior politician from Masvingo told NewsDay: “These kinds of messages are coming from members of her faction who want to create a martyr out of her.”

Mahofa, reportedly a key Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa ally, reportedly led Grace’s Masvingo revolt during an inter-district meeting ahead of the annual conference.

She maintained that Grace was only chosen as Women’s League boss.

For her “heroic” act, Mahofa reportedly received a heroine’s welcome at a Grace rally in Mberengwa District, Midlands, where Mnangagwa draws more support.

Madiro, also believed to be a Mnangagwa ally, had been tipped by fellow faction members to take over from Samuel Undenge as the party’s Manicaland provincial chairperson in the just-ended restructuring exercise that was necessitated by the purges on former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s allies.

Yesterday, Madiro, who was also reportedly hospitalised, said: “I will not talk about that issue on the phone. I have no comment.”

Although Zanu PF secretary for transport and welfare Oppah Muchinguri could not be reached for comment yesterday, at the Victoria Falls conference, she warned delegates against taking food home, saying it could turn bad and become poisonous.

Party spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo professed ignorance of the two incidents.

“I am not aware. I have not been briefed or made aware of that (Mahofa and Madiro hospitalisation over food poisoning),” Khaya-Moyo said.

Zanu PF is locked in bitter power struggles, with party members having divided loyalty reportedly towards Mnangagwa and Grace.
Grace is said to belong to a faction called G40.

Tension rose at the conference, with reports that a demand by war veterans and Women’s League to have a woman Vice-President was targeting Mnangagwa and seeking the elevation of Grace to the presidium, as she allegedly warmed up to take over from her husband, President Robert Mugabe.

The move was, however, thwarted by Mugabe, who said changes to the presidium would only be done at the party’s next elective congress due in 2019.

A senior Zanu PF official linked to the G40 camp said Madiro’s stomach upset could have been caused by the “overwhelming” G40 mantra “munhu wese kuna Amai”, which is meant to rally support for a possible Grace presidential bid.

On December 9 last year, a few minutes before he confirmed Mnangagwa as one of the country’s VPs, Mugabe disclosed that there had been a cyanide assassination attempt on his life that left the VP’s secretary hospitalised.

There have also been mysterious break-ins at the High Court, as well as other government officials’ offices in the past year or so as the race to succeed Mugabe continues to scale to new heights.

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