VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko today clocks 384 days in a five-star-hotel, gobbling over $250 000 of public funds in food and accommodation, at a time the economy is teetering on the brink.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Besides his presidential suite, Mphoko has an office at the hotel, where he meets guests after hours and has rooms for his close aides and grandchild.
Mphoko has been booked at the Rainbow Towers Hotel since December 14, 2014, shortly after being appointed Vice-President, and his luxurious lifestyle has provoked a strong rebuke from civic society groups and opposition parties.
According to staff at the hotel, the presidential suite located in the 17th floor, costs $403 inclusive of bed and breakfast for two per night, while lunch and dinner cost $15 each.
The hotel charges an additional $130 for an extra bedroom in the same suite for two children and Mphoko’s aides.
Government last month said it had secured accommodation for Mphoko at a staggering $3,5 million in upmarket The Grange suburb, but the house is reportedly being renovated to suit the Vice-President’s status.
Efforts to contact Mphoko yesterday were fruitless, as his phone went unanswered.
Opposition Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe leader, Elton Mangoma said Mphoko’s continued stay in the hotel confirmed Zanu PF’s insensitivity.
“This shows that the Zanu PF government has no interests of the people at heart. Honestly how can we have a VP staying in a hotel in his own country as if he is a visitor? The moral high ground, to be a leader, with such extravagance, really leaves more questions than answers. Spending 300 days in a hotel, yet the civil servants are wallowing in poverty and you claim to be a pro-poor party is something else, unheard off.”
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) spokesperson, Madock Chivasa said: “If you look at the money being wasted there, it could really help our economy do better. It could be channelled towards procurement of various health accessories, but this heartless Zanu PF regime believes in satisfying its leaders at the expense of the ordinary people.”
Late last year, five activists were arrested and charged with being criminal nuisances after they picketed the hotel, demanding Mphoko’s immediate checking out.
Early last year, Mphoko’s wife, Laurinda, reportedly rejected three houses, among them a mansion in Ballantyne Park worth $3 million, claiming they were too small for a person of the VP’s stature.
The Mphokos also refused to move into the house left by the late Vice-President Joseph Msika in Mandara, saying they wanted a residence of their own.