Police speak on Mnangagwa poisoning

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is still to receive any formal complaints to enable them to investigate the alleged poisoning of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Gwanda while attending a Zanu PF youth interface meeting, the Daily News can report.

By Gift Phiri and Fungi Kwaramba

More than two weeks after the incident involving one of the most senior politicians in the country, no one has contacted the ZRP as yet to make any formal complaint following claims that the vice president was poisoned by rivals who are desperate to eliminate him, physically, from succeeding President Robert Mugabe.

Police spokesperson, senior assistant commissioner Charity Charamba, told the Daily News on Thursday that the law enforcement agents cannot look into the allegations without a formal complaint, adding that it was up to any potential victim(s) to come forward to tell their stories to the force.

“So far, we have checked with all police institutions; so far we don’t have a report,” she told the Daily News in a telephone interview.

“Poisoning involves gathering evidence, so as police we did not receive a report, which enables us to proceed with proper investigations. I have spoken to Pro-Pol Mat South (officer commanding Matabeleland South Province), ndokurikunzi zvakaitikira (that’s where the incident allegedly transpired), they haven’t received any report.

“We have checked everywhere, there is no report. I have checked with CID (Criminal Investigations Department), there is no report. Once we receive the report, it will be investigated,” she added.

Charamba said if anyone out there feels that they have been the victim of any type of crime, they must call the police, file their report, and let their officers do their work.

Although one should report any crime to the police as soon as possible, no one is under obligation to do so.

A crime can be reported at any police station, either verbally or in writing.

Because no complaint has been formally filed in the case of Mnangagwa’s suspected food poisoning, any consideration of whether a statute of limitation could limit law enforcement involvement remains a moot point, legal experts said this week.

Government has not commented on whether it has begun the probe on the alleged poisoning.

Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxilia, who is the legislator for Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe, told the Daily News on Thursday that she was in a meeting and promised to call back, but had not done so at the time of going to Press.

Mnangagwa’s son Emmerson Jnr told the Daily News earlier this week: “I appreciate your concern regarding his health…I am sure his office will make a statement at the appropriate time”.

Efforts to obtain comment from Clifford Sibanda, the minister in the vice president’s office were futile.

This comes as Cabinet minister and Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo has suggested that police should investigate and establish what caused the Midlands godfather’s sudden illness.

Writing on micro blogging site Twitter, Moyo dared the vice president to report the matter to the police so that full-scale investigations could commence.

“The claim that VP Mnangagwa was poisoned means a crime was committed. Police should investigate the claim and crime,” he wrote.

Government has been adamant that the vice president — seen as the most likely official to take over from the incumbent in the event that he leaves office — consumed “stale food”.

Mnangagwa’s family and allies insist, however, that the vice president was poisoned by rivals.

He had to be hospitalised in South Africa for nearly a week following his alleged poisoning two weeks ago.

While he is now back in the country, Mnangagwa is still to resume his official duties.

The Daily News understands that the former Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe legislator, who is still on sick leave, will fly again to South Africa soon, not only for a check-up but also to have further treatment on his lungs which were affected by the poisoning.

Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa — who indicated a fortnight ago that investigations were underway to establish the true cause of Mnangagwa illness — said yesterday: “We can only update you when I see him and I haven’t.”

Authoritative sources said they were yet to receive the chemical analysis report from the Forensic Science Laboratory in South Africa.

Mnangagwa’s sympathisers and allies have claimed he was poisoned with non radioactive palladium, which damaged part of his liver.

Dewa Mavhinga, a human rights lawyer, said it was high noon of factional gymnastics and political hara-kiri in Zanu PF, making it difficult to independently establish the veracity of the claim that Mnangagwa was poisoned if there is no police report.

“If indeed poisoning is suspected, then a crime was committed and as such a police report is in order to facilitate investigations and to hold those responsible to account,” said Mavhinga.

“But if no police report is filed, it then raises questions about what exactly transpired and whether or not the incident is nothing more than political hullabaloo meant to divert attention from more pressing national issues.” – Daily News