VICE President Phelekezela Mphoko, who has been staying at Harare’s Rainbow Towers Hotel, was Tuesday asked to vacate the presidential suite to make way for visiting Chinese President XI Jinping.
The Chinese leader jetted into Zimbabwe Tuesday morning for a two-day visit and was due to leave Wednesday for South Africa. Mphoko has been staying at the hotel with his family for almost a year at the expense of the state, defying calls from residents, human rights activist and opposition leaders to vacate the facility.
The VP took up residence at the hotel after he was appointed one of President Mugabe’s two deputies last year. A source at the hotel said that Mphoko was “downgraded” to the Diplomatic Suite on Tuesday.
“Hotel staff packed his belongings in the morning and repacked them in the diplomatic suite early this (Tuesday) morning. “Around 8 a.m.
Chinese security details and staff brought took over the Presidential Suite for to prepare for their leader.” The Chinese president later arrived at the hotel around 12 midday.
On Monday five activists were arrested at the hotel for staging a protest against Mphoko’s continued stay at the facility.
The vice president reportedly rejected three properties offered by the state in Harare, arguing they were not suitable for a public official of his stature.