BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
JUSTICE minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has accused MDC-T senator Khalipani Phugeni of being a tribalist for alleging that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was marginalising the Matabeleland region by not appointing a replacement for embattled former Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, who resigned last month over a sex scandal.
Mohadi quit as vice-president on March 1 after details of his alleged affairs with married women and subordinates seconded to his office were made public.
Mnangagwa is expected to pick his replacement from former Zapu officials, in line with the Unity Accord signed in 1987 between PF-Zapu and Zanu PF.
Several names have been thrown around as possible successors, including Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo and Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda, among others.
The Zanu PF leader last week transferred senior staffers in the former VP’s office to other portfolios, triggering suspicion that he was not in a hurry to appoint Mohadi’s replacement.
But Phugeni, the MDC-T Bulawayo senator, while contributing to the Second Reading of the Constitutional Amendment Bill No 2 on Wednesday, drew Ziyambi’s anger after he alleged that the delay in appointing Mohadi’s successor was further marginalising people from the Matabeleland regions.
He made the remarks while contributing to debate on the scraping of the “running mate” clause from the Constitution.
“The issue of the running mate does speak to the issue of gender balance,” Phugeni said.
“You will recall we had a Vice-President in this country in the name of Joice Mujuru. She was unceremoniously removed from her position by a very powerful President (the late Robert Mugabe), who later lived to regret that action, but it was too late.”
He added: “It also speaks to the issue of the historically marginalised people of Matabeleland. We had a Vice-President here by the name of (Phelekezela) Mphoko. When the military intervention happened (in 2017), he had to run for his life and when he came back, he was, like Mujuru, removed from power and we have never heard of him.
“The former Vice-President of the country (Kembo Mohadi) resigned after not so pleasing details emerged about him and his private affairs. We’re just over a month now and there is no replacement. The people of Matabeleland feel they are underrepresented in the Executive power of this country.”
But this did not go down well with Ziyambi, who is steering the Bill through both Houses.
He denied that the military targeted Mphoko, who was in Russia when Mugabe was toppled in November 2017.
“I think let us not tribalise issues that are not necessarily tribal, like the people of Matabeleland are saying they need a President,” Ziyambi said.
“Who told you that you are their spokesperson? I think it is an issue that the President when he sees fit, he appoints his assistant. He is not appointing assistants because of tribal lines, he is appointing assistants because they are Zimbabweans.”
Ziyambi added: “If you look at our provinces, they are not equal. I may probably say that the population in Mashonaland West may be twice the population in Matabeleland South.
“So those are issues that I believe as a nation we are all relatives. Let us leave these issues of trying to tribalise things when we are discussing a constitutional amendment.”