Under-pressure Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko on Sunday dismissed allegations of corruption levelled against him and his son Siqokoqela. The VP also desperately tried to explain his embarrassing stay in the top-class Rainbow Towers Hotel for more than 550 nights, clocking up an estimated bill of $300 000.
Addressing journalists after handing over day-old chicks to members of the Nketa community here, VP Mphoko denied private media reports that he was corrupt and instead blamed a mudslinging campaign by “detractors” seeking to soil his name.
It was recently reported that VP Mphoko allegedly tried to secure a $350 million loan at 20 percent interest on behalf of Zesa Holdings from Botswana’s Capital Management Africa (CMA).
Its claimed, Mphoko, taking advantage of his son Siqokoqela’s links with the Botswana-based firm, wanted Zesa to get a $350 million loan at 20 percent interest per annum.
Siqokoqela allegedly holds 5 percent stake in CMA and was said to have been directly involved in structuring and negotiating the loan.
President Mugabe, the reports said, allegedly blocked the deal which would have seen Zimbabwe paying $70 million in interest on the loan.
“There are accusations being made against me that I’m corrupt. It’s also said that I’ve overstayed at the hotel,” said VP Mphoko.
“First thing, I’m not corrupt. I don’t need anybody’s money. God gave me what I have. I’m 76 (years) now. I’m not looking for anything. I don’t want President Mugabe’s position. He (President Mugabe) appointed me to be a Vice President because John Nkomo had died, 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.”
Last week police arrested two people after a group of angry protestors stormed the Rainbow Towers asking Mphoko to leave the hotel where he has been staying for more than a year at taxpayers’ expense. During the protest, the vice president, who has declared that he will not vacate the hotel, was marooned in his 17th floor hotel room with his family.
“We run Choppies, it is a people’s shop. Our low prices have forced every retailer to reduce theirs. They can’t overcharge because people would opt for Choppies. They want to tell lies and say I’m corrupt as a justification so that when they go and attack Choppies, they would have misled people,” said VP Mphoko.
I know the people who are responsible. They know that I’m not corrupt. I have a very clean record throughout my life and that is the biggest problem they have. I don’t have any record of transgression. For them to carry out their plot they need to soil my name first but it won’t work.”
VP Mphoko said before his appointment, he stayed in private hotels but moved to the Rainbow Towers as per Government requirements.
“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.
VP Mphoko also dismissed accusations that he refused to move into a Government house bought for him by the State in Harare.
“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.
“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.”
VP Mphoko said before moving into the house acquired for him by the Government, it has to meet laid down security standards.
“The Presidency is an institution governed by strict security, strict protocol not anything outside that. Long back I used to drive from South Africa, park my car along the road and sleep but I can’t do that now. The men I travel with can’t allow me to do that,” he said.
“People talk about things they don’t know. My house even here in Bulawayo has been turned into a Government house in the sense that protocol and security are dominating.
“Those who are talking have failed. They know it because they want me to be like them. I will never be because my life is governed by prayers and God. All their efforts will not work.”