THE late national heroine and Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa succumbed to high blood pressure after she reportedly received reports of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged food poisoning, a close family member has claimed.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/OBEY MANAYITI/BLESSED MHLANGA
Mahofa’s daughter, Nyengeterai, told NewsDay last week that her mother “cried for two hours” fearing for Mnangagwa’s life.
“She (Mahofa) was stressed when she learnt that the VP (Mnangagwa) had been poisoned. She was stressed greatly and cried for two hours. Her blood pressure rose dramatically, she then collapsed before we took her to hospital where she was pronounced dead,” Nyengeterai said.
“We are not interested in what people really said or did not say. We are accepting this as the way that was chosen for her to go.”
Mahofa, long labelled as a Mnangagwa ally, passed away on Thursday after reportedly battling a litany of ailments that her associates in the ruling party said had been exacerbated by “poison” she reportedly ingested at the Zanu PF annual conference held in Victoria Falls in December 2015.
Both Mahofa and Mnangagwa stand accused of turning Masvingo province into their personal fiefdom and blocking top Zanu PF officials from invading sugarcane plots in the Lowveld.
Other sources claimed that shortly before her death, Mahofa had an altercation with a senior Zanu PF official over the phone.
“Late last Sunday, Cde Mahofa realised she had missed 10 calls from (name withheld). When she returned the call, they had a verbal altercation for some two-and-a-half hours,” NewsDay heard.
“The person at the other end of the line lashed out at Mahofa, accusing the resident minister of blocking her access to Tongaat Hulett sugarcane farms.”
Three weeks ago, First Lady and Zanu PF women’s league chairperson, Grace Mugabe, implored her husband President Robert Mugabe to push the Lands ministry to act decisively on Tongaat Hulett.
Yesterday, chaos marred Mahofa’s burial at the National Heroes’ Acre, as her supporters occasionally disrupted the proceedings by singing and chanting slogans denouncing their rivals, while scores walked out on Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who presided over the event.
Mphoko had been roped in to stand on behalf of Mugabe, who stayed away from the burial although he had arrived in the country a few hours earlier from a Sadc Summit in South Africa.
Attended by a few mourners, the burial was tense, with Zanu PF youths, suspected to have been planted to humiliate the VP, singing and chanting their slogans without paying attention to the formal proceedings.
Anticipating trouble, officials dispatched police, soldiers, State security operatives to try and calm the crowd, but with little success.
Mahofa was widely believed to be in the Zanu PF faction pushing for Mnangagwa to take over from Mugabe.
The Mnangagwa bid is, however, being fiercely contested by a rival faction led by Grace.
Initially, there were reports that the Mahofa family and her supporters did not want Mphoko to preside at her burial, citing factional differences.
All hell broke loose when some operatives were deployed to fish out troublemakers during the time Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo was introducing Mphoko.
“We can’t be treated like we are criminals when we came here all the way from Masvingo to bid farewell to our mother and these guys, because they are in suits, want to beat us up for singing, we sing at funerals,” one of the youths who had been attacked said.
Police had to be deployed to seal out exits to save Mphoko the embarrassment of addressing an empty arena.
The law enforcement agents had a torrid time in controlling the crowd as droves of party supporters walked out in protest over their alleged harassment by State security agents.
However, Mphoko seemed unfazed and continued with his prepared speech.
He spoke glowingly of Mahofa, describing her as a dedicated, peaceful and loyal Zanu PF member, who worked tirelessly to ensure the party maintains its grip.
“Comrades and friends, in the late Mai Mahofa, we saw a political cadre who was straightforward, trustworthy and morally upright. She subordinated herself to the party and leadership and embraced wholeheartedly the work and assignments she was given. She hailed from a generation of principled cadres who never hesitated to make sacrifices for the people,” Mphoko said.
He took a dig at those who wanted to use Mahofa’s funeral to settle old political scores.
“There is no need for anyone to soil her status to seek to hijack for the purpose advancing any narrow and sinister agenda. National heroes and heroines like Cde Mahofa are by definition figures and rallying points of national unity,” the VP said.
“Any attempt to use national heroes and heroines for any divisive agenda is a betrayal of the gains of the liberation struggle. Comrades and friends allow me to say to Cde Mahofa well done daughter of the soil, you played your part during the days of your productive life before and after independence.”