HARARE – Cabinet ministers accused of poisoning Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have rubbished the allegations as ludicrous, saying their hands were clean.
This comes as one of Mnangagwa’s loyalists, Energy Mutodi, sensationally claimed last week that Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, pictured, poisoned the vice president.
The businessman-cum politician, who is currently out on bail on charges of undermining the authority of the president and causing disaffection among members of the defence forces, was yesterday summoned to the police on charges of communicating falsehoods.
When he was arrested on August 10, Mutodi had posted on his Facebook wall that President Robert Mugabe faced dire consequences in the event he failed to handle the burning succession in his party.
This week, he stirred the hornet’s nest once again by claiming that Mnangagwa consumed food while in a helicopter on his way to Gwanda for the Zanu PF youth interface rally, with the food said to have been brought from Sekeremayi’s home.
“According to reports, Mnangagwa boarded an Air Force plane at the Zimbabwe Defence College on the fateful day in the company of the two ministers. Another minister, Simon Khaya Moyo was also reportedly on board,” Mutodi told the Daily News before going on to post the allegations on his Facebook page last week.
“It is said that while in the chopper, the vice president was served with some samoosas, sandwiches and grapes that he unsuspectingly ate. The food is said to have been brought by Sekeramayi from home. It is not yet established who (was) part of the cabin crew.”
Reached for comment, Sekeramayi — punted as one of the bigwigs likely to take over from Mugabe — took a long pause and laughed before giving a direct reply.
“I won’t say much except that all he has said is a lie and end at that,” said the Swedish-trained medical doctor.
Parirenyatwa, who is attending the World Health 67th Committee Meeting in Victoria Falls, was not picking up his phone and had not responded to questions sent to him on his mobile phone on Monday.
The Health minister gave first aid assistance to Mnangagwa when the alleged poisoning happened and has given updates on the vice president’s health.
“Preliminarily blood tests were okay but I cannot confirm anything further than that because this is personal. The appropriate medical investigations will be done as well in terms of blood, stool, urine and so forth,” said Parirenyatwa in his first public statement issued two weeks ago.
Zanu PF spokesperson Moyo told the Daily News this week that he was not in the helicopter as alleged by Mutodi.
“I flew from here (Harare) to Bulawayo Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and from Bulawayo I went to Gwanda by road,” Moyo said. “I don’t know why someone would make such a claim that I was with the vice president in the helicopter.”
Mnangagwa had to be airlifted to South Africa for treatment after he suddenly fell ill while attending a rally in Gwanda.
Government has claimed Mnangagwa consumed “stale food” but his family and allies insist the vice president was poisoned by rivals.
Since his return from South Africa, Mnangagwa has avoided discussing the outcome of medical examinations conducted on him while receiving treatment in the neighbouring country.
“Handizivi kuti pandakararama apa Mwari achandipa mamwe mangani (After this close shave, I don’t know how many more years God will give me),” said Mnangagwa during his visit to the Muzenda home where he had gone to pay his condolences last Friday.
“Pamwe uchangouya odzura hake. Mwari ndivo mukuru wazvose. Akada kukutora hazvina muvhunzo, hazvina consultation, hazvina feasibility study. (Perhaps he will return to pluck me. Everything is under the control of the sovereignty of God. When he decides to take you, you can’t argue with his decision, there are no consultations, no feasibility study).”
Mnangagwa, speaking in vernacular, said everyone was a flower in God’s garden, and in another aspect, we all are sojourners here, and that this world is not our home.
Quoting Psalm 135:6, Mnangagwa said whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
Police have said they have not received any formal complaints to investigate the alleged poisoning of Mnangagwa hence they could not look into the allegations without a formal complaint.
David Mukwekwezeke, a government medical officer, said in an open letter to Mutodi sent to the Daily News that Parirenyatwa and Sekeramayi could not have acted with malicious intent when they came to the aid of Mnangagwa when he fell ill.
“By making such an outrageous and ludicrous allegation you are essentially attacking all doctors in this country and the world over,” Mukwekwezeke said.
“When . . . Mnangagwa took ill the closest doctors by professional and personal proximity were without doubt the two doctors who were sitting on the same table, these were . . . Sekeramayi and . . . Parirenyatwa.
“This is a standard of care that all doctors regardless of political standing, affiliations and any other form of prejudice abide by all over the globe. Once a doctor, always a doctor. Being a doctor is not a profession, it is a vocation. It is not what you are but it is who you are.”
Mukwekwezeke said the two Cabinet ministers were bound by the Hippocratic Oath to attend to the patient in a non-partisan manner.
“Those two doctors attended to the patient as doctors first of all and in no other capacity up to that point but allow me to tutor you a bit more on why you spoke out of turn. The patient was then taken to the readily available and always available medical consultation room just a few meetrs behind the VIP tent where the two doctors were also joined by a third doctor . . . Paul Chimedza.
“The three doctors jointly made a quick history-taking and examination and made a correct spot diagnosis based on the limited information, time and resources they had available to them at that point.
“All medical textbooks, literature and teaching concur that when you hear hoof beats think ‘horses’ before you think ‘zebras’. This ethical precept means that when you make a diagnosis, you must first of all rule out the most common diagnosis first before you can even begin to think of other rarer causes of the same symptoms and signs.
Mukwekwezeke added: “The doctors you are making these despicable, malicious and heinous allegations against are also our leaders professionally.
“They have years of experience as medical doctors and have even taught some of us the art of healing. Again, I invoke the Hippocratic Oath. It orders us to respect our teachers and in turn teach their children the art if they wish to learn it. It is on this basis that disrespect of our seniors in the profession is automatically identified as disrespect against their students and teachers viz-a-viz disrespect against all doctors.”
Mutodi, however, claimed that it was that medical background which enabled the pair to skilfully “conceal evidence of their criminal actions”. – Daily News