BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
FORMER Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who stands accused of abuse of public office, has dragged President Emmerson Mnangagwa into his case, saying the Zanu PF leader in 2015 made a similar act when he released the party’s former youth leader Godfrey Gomwe under similar circumstances.
In a statement yesterday through his daughter Siduduzile, Mphoko said: “The Presidency is an institution … Mnangagwa was tasked to look into the resuscitation of the Ziscosteel, mining and exporting raw chrome, command agriculture and to resolve the Harare Zanu PF province, where Gomwe had been arrested. Mnangagwa’s intervention got Gomwe released from his arrest.”
Gomwe had been arrested for allegedly extorting almost $46 000 from housing co-operatives in Harare using then First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name.
Mphoko’s alleged offence relates to his involvement in the release of former Zinara acting chief executive Moses Juma and non-executive director Davison Norupiri from police custody in 2016.
Juma was later re-arrested and sentenced to two years in jail for criminal abuse of office.
“… As I have alluded, Juma had appeared in court three times and every one of the three times the court had dismissed the case, but he was forced to be remanded against the court order. That was then the Presidency had to intervene as in the case of Gomwe. I am now being persecuted as if I did all these operations in my own individual capacity … when I acted as part of the Presidency.”
Mphoko has also since written to Mnanagwa expressing fears over his security and life after the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) threatened to arrest him on criminal abuse of office charges.
Mphoko’s lawyer, Zibusiso Ncube in a letter to Zacc dated August 19 and copied to Mnangagwa and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), accused the anti-corruption body of having ulterior motives.
On Monday, Mphoko reportedly evaded arrest at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court where he had presented himself to sign a warned and cautioned statement as agreed with Zacc. The anti-graft body later accused him of fleeing from justice.
In the letter, Mphoko’s lawyers said: “The decision to proceed with the attempted arrest in spite of the agreement was unilateral. Our client advises that he was abused and there was flagrant and merciless attack on his dignity and constitutional rights. He was treated as a convict, yet he is innocent until proven otherwise.
“Our client fears for his life as he firmly believes that he is to be abducted and injected with lethal poison. Our client fears that any pre-trial incarceration would leave him vulnerable to and exposed to the fear espoused above. Despite the concerns, he is prepared to appear before any court of law preferably in Bulawayo so as to clear his name. He is adamant that he is not guilty of any of the charges.”
But, Zacc spokesperson commissioner John Makamure yesterday insisted that Mphoko was a fugitive from justice.
“He is a fugitive from justice and Zacc officials are on the ground hunting for him,” Makamure said.
However, Mphoko’s lawyer indicated that his client was prepared to stand trial should they be advised of the trial date.
“We request and propose that a trial date be set and we are furnished with the necessary State papers so that we attend to the trial without having to deal with pre-trial incarceration. His attendance in court on the set date could be secured by serving him, with a summons to appear in court on the agreed date,” the lawyer added.