By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has sensationally claimed that his boss sent him to release Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) senior executives who had been arrested for fraud.
The ZINARA chairman, Albert Mugabe, is President Robert Mugabe’s relative.
Mphoko was addressing ruling Zanu PF supporters at Kent Estates in Norton last Thursday ahead of a parliamentary by-election.
The Norton seat fell vacant when President Robert Mugabe expelled Christopher Mutsvangwa, the war veterans’ leader, from the party for allegedly badmouthing his wife, Grace.
Mphoko was reported to have stormed Avondale Police Station in Harare in July, took off his shirt and assaulted police officers who queried his interference with his work.
The two executives, Moses Juma who is the ZINARA chief executive officer and Davison Norupiri, a board member, faced prosecution for criminal abuse of office but since their release on Mphoko’s orders, nothing has happened to them.
“People lied that I beat up police officers at Avondale Police Station. The truth, of course, is that I was sent by the president (Mugabe) to ensure that they (ZINARA executives) are released,” said Mphoko.
He was in the company of a factional ally, Saviour Kasukuwere, the Zanu PF national organiser and Local Government minister.
They had gone to drum up support for Ronald Tinashe Chindedza who is running against Temba Mliswa, a former Zanu PF provincial chairman for Mashonaland West province where Norton lies.
Mphoko sprung to the defence of Jonathan Moyo, the Higher and Tertiary Education minister who is currently under fire for allegedly looting millions of dollars from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF).
Moyo has admitted to illegally drawing the money, but insists that he was justified to do so since he channeled it towards Zanu PF activities.
The controversial vice president vowed no Zanu PF lawmaker would be arrested for using government funds or property to bankroll Zanu PF.
“The party comes first and since Zanu PF is government, we will do everything to stay in power including using money from government to ensure we win elections,” Mphoko said.
Kasukuwere, who belongs to the Generation 40 (G40) faction together with Mphoko and Moyo as well as Grace Mugabe, said he was prepared to go to jail for converting government funds to party business.
He called Goodson Nguni, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) investigations committee, a thief and threatened him with unspecified action.
It would not be the first time that Kasukuwere is linked to the victimisation of a ZACC investigator.
Several years ago, another ZACC commissioner, Emmanuel Chimwanda, ended up facing trial after he instituted corruption probes against Kasukuwere and another cabinet minister, Ignatius Chombo, who is now in charge of the Home Affairs portfolio.
Irinocally, Mphoko on Sunday urged the arrest of corrupt hospital officials, while doling out day-old chicks to Bulawayo’s Old Pumula residents.
Mphoko has admitted in the past that ZINARA funded his chick donations, and this has been seen as the reason why he meddled with police investigations.
“There are thieves ion our hospitals, for instance Mpilo, UBH (United Bulawayo Hospital) and Ingutsheni. Professional thieves who are protected by the law,” said Mphoko. Nehanda Radio