OPPOSITION parties yesterday came out guns blazing over government’s decision to buy a $4 million mansion for Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, saying the transaction was ill-timed and would further plunge the economy into the abyss.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
On Tuesday, Local Government ministry permanent secretary, George Mlilo told NewsDay the State had secured a property in Harare’s leafy The Grange suburb for Mphoko, who has been staying in an upmarket hotel since his appointment in December last year.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu described the decision as “shameful and an insult to the suffering Zimbabweans”.
“This goes to show the level of extravagance and disrespect that this Zanu PF government has for its people. At a time when we are expecting tight cost-cutting measures to come from the cash-strapped government, we are greeted with news that one man is bound to live in a $4 million house. Where on earth is that possible?” he asked rhetorically.
“In the first place, Mphoko should not have moved into a presidential suite at a five-star hotel when government has accommodation ready for occupation which was used by the late VP Joseph Msika. It is more worrying and embarrassing, in fact heartless that the VP is now set to move into a $4 million house. Who does he think he is?”
Gutu said the money being used to acquire the property could be channelled towards rehabilitation of the country’s collpasing health system.
After NewsDay revealed that Mphoko had been living in the hotel for almost 300 days, pressure on him to leave the presidential suite had been ratcheted up in the past few weeks, culminating in the arrest of activists, who demonstrated against him last week at Rainbow Towers Hotel.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Mphoko should “just resign because he is a cost to Zimbabwe”.
“For his entire stay at Rainbow Towers Hotel, the people of Zimbabwe have benefited nothing. The bill he has accumulated is too huge and could have been used to buy drugs or a modest house for him in the up-market suburbs,” he said.
Early this year, Mphoko’s wife, Laurinda, reportedly rejected three houses, among them a mansion in Ballantyne Park worth $3 million, claiming that they were too small for a person of the VP’s stature.