Chemical warfare: Zanu PF minister hospitalised, victim of succession foul play
Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge is reportedly battling for his life in South Africa because of suspected food poisoning as the infighting in Zanu PF over President Robert Mugabe’s succession reaches frightening levels.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Government sources told Standard that Undenge, who is linked to the G40 faction in Zanu PF, was allegedly poisoned during a Zanu PF meeting in Mutare.
“He was flown to South Africa a few days ago after falling ill. He is at a private hospital following a suspected food poisoning incident. There is a belief that he was poisoned two weeks ago at a party meeting in Mutare,” the source said.
“Suspicion is rife that this could be due to these party factional fights rocking Zanu PF; there are so many people who want his post as provincial chair.”
Information minister Christopher Mushohwe said he was in China and referred questions to Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba, who said he was unaware of the issue.
“How can I know about the supposed illness of a minister and still be able to talk about it with you? Try to talk to his permanent secretary, Patson Mbiriri, maybe he might be of help,” Charamba said.
Mbiriri was not answering his phone last night.
Undenge yesterday missed the Manicaland provincial co-ordinating committee meeting in Mutare, which was preparing for next month’s party’s annual conference slated for Masvingo. His deputy Joseph Mujati said he was unaware of the provincial chairperson’s whereabouts.
“I don’t know where he is. He did not attend today’s meeting,” Mujati said without elaborating.
Undenge’s wife, Letina’s phone went unanswered when reached for a comment.
Food poisoning is not new in Zanu PF as last year Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa allegedly survived the same after she was accused of attacking first lady Grace Mugabe.
Last year, former Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson Mike Madiro was reportedly hospitalised on suspicion of food poisoning at the party’s 15th national people’s conference held in Victoria Falls, with claims that it was due to the tussle for the chairmanship of the province.
Madiro, also believed to be an ally of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, had been tipped to take over from Undenge as provincial chairperson.
Zanu PF is embroiled in serious factional tussles as party members prepare for life after Mugabe.
The 92 year old leader is due to retire but is not willing to name a successor with many suspecting he is about to handover power to either Mnangagwa or First Lady Grace who announced last week that she is already a president as she performs presidential duties to relieve pressure off her ailing husband.