Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has described staying in a hotel as just as good as living in a house and accused unnamed foes of smearing his name over his occupancy of the five-star resort.
Zimbabwean citizens are increasingly getting impatient with Mphoko’s continued stay at Rainbow Towers, a hotel in which government has shares.
Pressure groups last Friday besieged the hotel and demanded the vice president’s immediate evacuation but police violently quashed the protest and took away the demonstrators’ leaders.
Mphoko has now clocked more than 550 days at the five-star hotel where he is reportedly staying with his grandson after spurning a $3.5 million house that government offered him.
The presidential suite which is on the 17th floor costs $403 for two per day while lunch and dinner go for a minimum of $15 each.
An additional $130 is charged for the extra bedrooms that accommodate the aides and grandchild.
Addressing journalists after handing over day-old chicks in Bulawayo, Mphoko bragged that he was staying in grand hotels even before President Robert Mugabe appointed him vice president in December 2014.
“The day I was appointed VP of this country, I was staying at Meikles Hotel. According to government regulations, I had to move out of Meikles because it is a private hotel. I moved to a government hotel which is Sheraton (Rainbow Towers). The Government has got shares there,” he said.
I live in a government hotel. It’s as good as staying in a government house. It’s as good as (Morgan) Tsvangirai who is staying in a government house. Tsvangirai is staying in a government house which is as good as staying at Sheraton,” he added.
Tsvangirai, the MDC-T leader, is staying in a government house in Harare’s Highlands suburb and was allocated the residence during his tenure as prime minister during the 2009-2013 Government of National Unity (GNU).
Mphoko and his wife, Laurinda, have postponed moving into a house allocated to them by government in the upmarket Ballantyne Park in the capital, saying it does not meet their standards.
The vice president dismissed the claim that the house was worth more than $3 million, insisting it was way below that.
“People don’t know what they are talking about. The house that the Government has bought me is not even worth $3 million. It’s $1 million and something,” he said.
He said the allotted house was still to meet basic security requirements because “the presidency is an institution governed by strict security, strict protocol not anything outside that”.
Mphoko, who has publicly rapped his counterpart, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, over the latter’s alleged ambitions to succeed Mugabe, said reports that he was corrupt were being spread by his enemies.
The local media recently reported that Mugabe had stopped his bid to fix a $350 million loan from Botswana’s Capital Management Africa (CMA) where his son, Siqokela, has shares.
The loan, which was going to give a $70 million profit to CMA, would purportedly go to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings on 20 percent per annum interest.
“I didn’t take anyone’s position. I didn’t take anyone’s wife, and I have my children, my home and my own life is God-given. It is corrupt people who are saying I’m corrupt,” said Mphoko, who insisted he was not interested in taking Mugabe’s position when the 92 year-old president leaves.