FORMER Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko will soon 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 Mugabe.
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 1 December 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 to Zimbabwe.
The 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 home.
“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. 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,” he said.
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 VP.
He was recalled on the day the party also recalled former President Mugabe from the position of party First Secretary and replaced him with President Mnangagwa whom the ruling party also reinstated as a Central Committee member.
On Monday, former Cabinet Minister, Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube, said after his appointment in 2015, Mr Mphoko alienated his old war time friends and surrounded himself with dubious characters who misled him into engaging in factional politics.
Rtd Col Dube, the former War Veterans Minister, said Mr Mphoko, once a personal friend of his, ignored all advice and warnings against aligning himself with the wrong people.
“Mphoko was my personal friend; we worked together for a long time in the Zipra High Command. However, when he assumed power, I was disappointed because he surrounded himself with the wrong people who gave him bad advice,” he said. “He got new friends in the form of the likes of George Mlala. This is where he got things wrong because he involved himself with dubious characters with a very bad history. They misled him into playing factional politics with the G40 people.
“I think you remember that at one point Mphoko dressed me down at (Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial headquarters) Davies Hall when he said I should work with the Mlala group and the rest of the G40 cabal or my political life would come to an end.”
Cde Mnangagwa was sworn in as State President last Friday following the resignation of Cde Mugabe on Tuesday.
The party further recommended that Mr Mphoko, former First Lady, Mrs Grace Mugabe, fellow members of the G40 cabal namely Saviour Kasukuwere, Professor Jonathan Moyo, Ignatius Chombo, Patrick Zhuwao, Letina Undenge, Kudzanai Chipanga, Walter Mzembi, Paul Chimedza, Makhosini Hlongwane, Anastancia Ndlovu, Mandi Chimene, Dr Samuel Undenge, Sarah Mahoka, Mpehlabayo Malinga, Xavier Kazizi, Tongai Kasukuwere, Innocent Hamandishe, Nomthandazo Eunice Moyo and Shadreck Mashayamombe be expelled from the party.
Some members of the cabal are either on the run or in exile.
Others such as Chombo, Chipanga and Hamandishe have been arraigned before the courts on a slew of charges ranging from fraud, corruption, abuse of public office, causing disaffection among the police force or defence forces as defined in Section 30 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, kidnapping and publishing falsehoods.