Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s relationship with Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo has deteriorated to very low levels.
Impeccable sources told The Standard yesterday that the matter came to a head two weeks ago when new Makokoba lawmaker Tshinga Dube organised victory celebrations following his June 10 by-election win. Dube invited Mphoko as guest of honour and also reportedly invited Khaya-Moyo who arrived at the venue before the VP.
“Khaya-Moyo arrived before Mphoko and when the vice-president, then on his way to the function, was advised that the spokesperson was already there, he ordered his aides to make a U-turn and never came to the celebrations,” said a highly-placed source.
“It is that bad and this goes back to the fight for the vice-presidency in which Mphoko was accused of being a Johnny-come-lately.”
The source said the two were fighting over control of the Zapu element in Zanu PF.
“Mphoko obviously feels threatened by Khaya-Moyo, while the spokesperson still thinks that despite his congress set-back, there is still a chance,” he said.
While denying any knowledge of the incident, Khaya-Moyo said it would “be unfortunate if it happened that way”.
“I was brought up properly and do not harbour any grudges or hate anyone. I was invited to the occasion and attended as such. Ask Dube or the Zanu PF Bulawayo executive. If it happened as you say [that Mphoko retreated] then it is most unfortunate,” Khaya-Moyo said.
Zanu PF’s Bulawayo chairperson Dennis Dube also referred questions to his namesake, the new MP.
“I also came in a bit late but we did not organise the event. It was an individual effort by the new MP to celebrate his victory,” the provincial chairperson said.
Efforts to get a comment from Tshinga Dube were fruitless as his mobile phone was unreachable.
The fallout between Khaya-Moyo and Mphoko follows Mugabe’s admission that all was not well between his two deputies.
Mugabe told a Zanu PF youth league meeting last Saturday that ruling party groups were coalescing behind VP Emmerson Mnangagwa on the one hand and Mphoko on the other.
Just over six months ago, in December 2014, Mphoko — then an outsider and relatively unknown in the country’s political arena — was chosen ahead of Khaya-Moyo into the ruling party’s presidium. Earlier indications had been that the then party national chairman had one foot into the second most powerful office in the land.
A series of events beginning mid-2014 during the youth and women’s league elective conferences saw a vicious shift in fortunes for a faction in Zanu PF then led by deposed former Vice-President Joice Mujuru. Mujuru and her allies, along them then secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, former spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, ex-war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda and nine provincial chairpersons, cabinet ministers and deputies, were forced out in brutal fashion, accused of plotting against veteran ruler Mugabe.
However, Khaya-Moyo, despite his reported strong links to the Mujuru group, survived the chopping block by the skin of his teeth. But his fight for the party second secretary’s position which would have guaranteed him the position of deputy president went up in smoke. He was demoted to party spokesperson while the national chairman’s position was abolished by Mugabe.
The fight for supremacy in Matabeleland has thus continued despite Mphoko’s ascendancy.
“He feels inadequate because he does not have the roots that are required for the rough and tumble of Zimbabwean politics. In his bid to find space, he has obviously stepped on a few toes or rubbed others the wrong way,” The Standard heard from a senior Zanu PF member.
Mphoko could not be reached for comment. standard