ACTING President Phelekezela Mphoko, and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa openly traded barbs, as 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s succession wars reached a tipping point yesterday.

Mphoko, in a hard-hitting statement released on Tuesday night, accused Mnangagwa of undermining Mugabe’s authority and trying to destabilise the country by fanning ethnic tensions for political expediency.

But Mnangagwa immediately shot back at Mphoko yesterday, declaring his counterpart was neither qualified nor competent to comment on his medical reports, since he was neither a doctor nor his employer.

In his statement, Mphoko warned Mnangagwa against undermining Mugabe by claiming that he was poisoned at the Gwanda rally in August, when his doctors had dismissed the poisoning claim when they met the President.

 Mnangagwa, in a terse response, said Mphoko had no authority to comment on his health issues.

“If that statement is his, he is neither competent nor privileged to comment on my health because he is neither my doctor nor my employer.

 “Therefore, there is no need to dignify the statement with a response,” he said.

Mnangagwa’s claims he was poisoned where seen as contradicting what Mugabe told party supporters at a Midlands rally weeks after the former returned from South Africa, where he was treated after being airlifted from the Gwanda rally.

Initially, Mphoko’s statement was not on a government letterhead, but later, officials from the Vice-President said a new letter had been drafted and was ready for collection.


Mnangagwa’s close relative said it was shocking that Mphoko had feigned serious lack of understanding of simple English.

“Mnangagwa was poisoned, it was not food poisoning. There was a foreign substance injected into his food, the food itself was not stale and it was not toxins from the food, this is what President Mugabe said in Gweru, it cannot be Mnangagwa’s fault that Mphoko cannot understand English,” the family member said.