Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko is free to return to Zimbabwe from Botswana where he has been holed up since the Zimbabwe Defence Forces launched an operation to remove criminal elements around former President Cde Robert Mugabe, an official has said.

Mr Mphoko, a member of the G40 cabal targeted by the ZDF’s Operation Restore Legacy, left Zimbabwe on an official visit to Japan on November 14, a day before the army stepped in.

He did not return to Zimbabwe but instead, flew to Botswana where he has been a guest of the government there.

Highly placed sources said the Botswana government had given him up to December 1 to leave their country and return to Zimbabwe, but the former VP had been reluctant to do so fearing arrest for corruption-related crimes.

Mr Mphoko has been living in a State residence in Gaborone, but will now return home after reaching out to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and getting the necessary assurances that he was free to come back home.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba said Mr Mphoko had spoken to President Mnangagwa by telephone and asked to return.

“Former Vice President Mphoko spoke to the President and was assured that he is free to return to Zimbabwe and contribute to the rebuilding of the nation,” he said.

“Like any other Zimbabwean, he is free to come home and assist in growing the economy and the country. Hopefully, he will be making his way home soon.” Apart from his role in the previous Government, Mr Mphoko was also into business and is a director of Choppies Zimbabwe — a supermarket chain with branches in most cities and towns in the country.

The company also has vast interests in Botswana.

Mr Mphoko was among members of the G40 group who were expelled from the ruling zanu-pf party for engaging in activities meant to destabilise the Government.

The party also recalled him from the position of Vice President and Second Secretary over allegations of being divisive, a member of the G40 cabal, protecting criminals, preaching hate speech and behaving in a manner inconsistent with the office and decorum of the Vice President. state media