HARARE-VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko has reportedly refused to occupy the Munhumutapa Building government offices that were used by his three late predecessors fearing they are “haunted”.
Informed sources this week said Mphoko, who was appointed Vice-President last December, had refused to occupy the offices which were used by the late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo, then Joseph Msika, who was followed by John Nkomo at Munhumutapa Building, and instead “evicted” Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Ray Ndhlukula.
Mphoko was appointed to replace the late VP John Nkomo in December last year alongside his counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa following the dismissal of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru from both her government and Zanu PF positions on allegations of plotting to unseat President Robert Mugabe through
Although Mphoko, who is Zanu PF co-chairman, refused to respond to the issue when contacted for comment on Tuesday, government sources said the VP said he could not use offices which were previously occupied by the former VPs, who all died in office.
“What do you want from me? How can I help you?” Mphoko said curtly, before cutting the call on his mobile phone after the NewsDay reporter introduced himself.
A text message sent to his mobile phone regarding the issue had not been responded to by the time of going to print last night.
On the other hand, Ndhlukula declined to comment on the matter, saying it was not newsworthy.
“Is that news? [Are you] sure you want me to comment on that? I am not going to do that,” was all Ndhlukula said before cutting off.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said the Mphoko office issue was “old and I am not going to deal with that again”.
“I have already dealt with that,” he said.
“It’s an old story, and I am not going to talk about that. Don’t take me back to that issue, give me new things to respond to, not that.”
But sources said the fact that all the three Vice-Presidents from the former Zapu side had all died while still in office had induced fear in Mphoko that the offices were haunted.
“He refused to occupy the offices saying they are haunted and he could not use them,” a government source told NewsDay.
“At first, he requested that they be partitioned afresh and extended, but this was rejected because Munhumutapa offices cannot be tampered with as the building has been declared a monument site which cannot be changed physically, except for painting and minor renovations.”
Mphoko is the fourth VP from the ex-PF Zapu side.
“He pleaded not to use those offices because some of the former VPs believed in muti (black magic) and since he is an Adventist, he said he does not want to be associated with such things. More so, the fact that all the VPs who once occupied those offices have died, it was difficult for him to work from there and feel safe,” the source added.
Before John Nkomo, Msika was Mugabe’s deputy after succeeding Joshua Nkomo, who died in 1999.
Mphoko, who was appointed Vice-President to replace the late John Nkomo who died in office 2013, is entitled to stay in a government house among his other perks.
The Vice-President’s wife Laurinda in January this year reportedly turned down three upmarket residences, among them a $3 million mansion in Harare’s leafy Ballantyne Park suburb on the grounds that the house was “too small” for a person of the VP’s stature.
Mphoko, who is also National Healing and Reconcilliation minister, was initially scheduled to move into a government house left vacant by the late Vice-President Msika in Mandara, but his wife allegedly vehemently refused, saying she wanted a house of their own choice. The VP has since moved into a mansion in Harare’s leafy Gunhill suburb.
Superstition and use of magic (muti) is widespread in Zimbabwean political circles, with former VP Mujuru being publicly accused by Mugabe himself earlier this year of hiring sorcerers from Nigeria to bewitch him and take over his post using supernatural powers.
A devout Christian, Mujuru denied the allegations, but was nevertheless removed from office and fired from the ruling party on allegations of engaging in witchcraft, among other accusations.