HARARE – There was drama at the airport when the visibly angry President Mugabe appeared to be rebuking his deputy Vice President Mnangagwa as the pair exchanged harsh words in front of senior government officials and security aids.
On arrival at Harare International Airport, President Mugabe was welcomed by Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Cabinet Ministers, senior Government officials and service chiefs.
A video circulating last night showed President Mugabe not extending a hand shake to his longtime heir apparent Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s and instead he gave him a gesture of patronising pat on the shoulder while he wagged his finger in his face.
A bemused and stunned Mnangagwa backed off and appeared to be shouting at his boss who walked way. The pair is seen in other video clips again at President Mugabe’s car with the agitated ageing Zimbabwean strongman looking furious as he talks to his deputy while he answered back.
A furious Mugabe confronted his Deputy about his claims that he was poisoned. Mnangagwa is said to have denied ever saying that. Mnangagwa said what he said was that whatever happened to the late Shuvai Mahofa had happened to him. Mugabe is said to have asked him if he had done a post mortem on Mahofa.
Last night sources said rallies have already been organised by Higher Education Minister Prof. Jonathan Moyo and party political Commissaar Saviuor Kasukuwere to call for the expulsion of the embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the party.
A source privy to on-going plots to get Mnangagwa expelled last night said the party is already geared for a December conference that will replace Vice President Mugabe with First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Mnangagwa has been accused by his counterpart Phelekezela Mphoko of lying about being poisoned.
Mphoko on Wednesday accused his co-Vice President of “using lies” over an allegation of poisoning, fuelling political tensions ahead of next year’s elections.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko said his counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa had undermined President Robert Mugabe when Mnangagwa claimed to have been poisoned at a rally in August.
Mugabe, 93, has maintained strict discipline over his government for decades, but the public dispute comes amid growing in-fighting over who will eventually succeed him.
Mugabe has said that Mnangagwa was not poisoned, apparently to dispel rumours of an assassination attempt.
Mphoko accused Mnangagwa of making a “calculated” challenge to the president’s account of the incident.
“There appears to be an agenda to undermine the authority of President Mugabe and to destabilise the country by using lies,” Mphoko said in a statement. “This must stop.”
Mnangagwa is a favourite to succeed Mugabe, while Mphoko is seen as having no plans to run for the leadership.
The rare public rift came as Mphoko served as acting president during a visit by Mugabe to South Africa.
Mnangagwa, 75, was flown to South Africa for emergency treatment after falling ill at the ZANU-PF party rally in the southern town of Gwanda on August 12.
Some supporters claimed he had been given poisoned ice cream in an attempt to kill him.
Mugabe has already been named by the ZANU-PF as its presidential candidate for the 2018 elections.
The main threat to Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions is from the “G-40” group led by Mugabe’s wife Grace.
Mugabe returned home today from the Bi-National Commission in South Africa where he oversaw the signing of five bilateral agreements alongside his counterpart President Jacob Zuma.
The visit to South Africa also saw the two countries agreeing to revamp Beitbridge Border Post which already is the busiest border post in Africa.