AILING Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa was conspicuous by her absence at President Robert Mugabe’s 92nd birthday bash in the province at the weekend, amid reports she is unwell and is hospitalised in South Africa.
Mahofa has not reported for duty since the beginning of the year and has been bedridden for close to three months after her health deteriorated soon after the Zanu PF conference last December, amid speculation she ate poisoned food.
However, close family members have dismissed the narrative as false, saying she has a heart and kidney problem.
At Mugabe’s bash on Saturday, Mahofa had been slotted in as one of the speakers, but Psychomotor minister Josaya Hungwe stood in for her.
Mugabe, in his speech, confirmed Mahofa’s absence and urged party members to pray for her.
“We are sorry that Mai Mahofa is still ill, but we hear she is recovering. We pray that God gives her strength to recover and come back to work,” he said.
Mahofa, dubbed the Iron Lady of Masvingo, set tongues wagging ahead of the party’s conference after she rejected First Lady Grace Mugabe’s presidential bid, saying she only recognised her as the Women’s League chairperson and wife of the President.
Grace is locked in a bitter succession war with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction – to which Mahofa reportedly belongs – to replace Mugabe, who is now in his twilight years.-amh