Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko has joined President Robert Mugabe on holiday in the Far East as he starts his annual leave.
Mphoko, who was acting-president since December 24 when Mugabe went on holiday, left Harare on Tuesday for Dubai together with his family to join his boss.
His counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa, who also flew to Dubai with his family and met with the president recently, is now acting-president.
Tabitha Malinga-Kanengoni, the Minister of State in the VP’s office confirmed that Mphoko was in the Far East.
“Yes, he is on leave and in the Far East. What do you want to know? Don’t call me so that I confirm and you write silly things,” Malinga-Kanengoni said.
A Zanu PF insider said Mugabe had invited Mphoko. The soon-to-be-92-year-old leader recently extended a similar invitation to Mnangagwa.
“The visit to Dubai is at the invitation of the first family, just like the invitation, which was extended to VP Mnangagwa,” said the source.
“He will join the president and they will have time to reflect, share notes and know each other as families.
“Politically, the president is balancing and trying not to divide the two.”
The two VPs allegedly belong to different factions in Zanu PF that are fighting to succeed Mugabe.
One faction is linked to Mnangagwa while the other is reportedly led by a group of young Turks calling itself G40 and backs First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Alexander Rusero, a Harare-based political analyst said Mugabe and his lieutenants must think about spending their holidays locally to save money.
“Zimbabwe is currently in comatose and needs its captain to be nearby to steer the ship,” he said.
“This idea of Mugabe and his deputies spending public resources away from home is not welcome.
“He [Mugabe] should have visited local places like Victoria Falls so that he could be near the country and its problems.”
Rusero said Mugabe’s invitation to his two VPs was an attempt to portray himself as a unifier who treated his lieutenants equally.
“This message to the factionalists is that Mugabe is still calling the shots and that he is the big man who can afford to spend time with his deputies getting to understand them better,” he said.
Mphoko has been staying at the Rainbow Towers in Harare since his appointment in December 2014 amid a chorus of disapproval from opposition parties and civil society.AMH