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The fight at Zanu PF stand was over paraphernalia of national hero and late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s history.
According to NewsDay, Mphoko was the first to tour the stand Wednesday before Mnangagwa on Thursday.
“He (Mphoko) arrived at the stand, looked around and found 50 copies of Nkomo’s autobiography, The Story of My Life, being exhibited. Mphoko ordered his aides to remove the books, but did not tell the family why and how they would recover them,”
49 copies of the book were later returned on Friday.
An angry Mphoko on Friday rejected the claims.
“Me? Are people crazy? Please do not play games with me. I don’t want that,” Mphoko fumed.
The late Father Zimbabwe’s son Sibangilizwe Nkomo seemed cagey when asked about the incident.
“I have heard that there is an exhibition at ZITF, but I would need to check with other family members. I am not sure about that incident,” he said.
Minister in Mphoko’s office Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga professed ignorance about the incident.
“Is that what happened? But I was standing right next to him (Mphoko) when he toured the stand and I did not hear him say that to anyone. I am not aware of that incident,” Kanengoni-Malinga said.
The paper said the head of the Central Intelligence Organisation’s close security unit, Miles Ngulube, somewhat confirmed the matter before he made a U-turn saying he knew nothing about the incident.
“I was there at the stand wani (of course)! Who gave you my number? Just because I am the head of security, so people think I know. Talk to the guys in Bulawayo, I know nothing about what you are saying,” Ngulube said.
Ngulube also queried: “I left Bulawayo as soon as the President (Robert Mugabe) left on Friday, so how would I know about that?”
Nkomo’s book caused untold discomfort in Mugabe’s government as it revealed intricate details of the Gukurahundi episode that forced him into a union with the veteran Zimbabwean leader following years of military-backed violence which caused at least 20 000 civilian deaths in the western parts of the country.
Mphoko, a former Zapu commander in the early years of the liberation war, has had his credentials questioned by his former colleagues amid claims he abandoned the war at the critical stages, hiding in Mozambique and started a family while others continued fighting.
When Mnangagwa toured the same stand on Thursday, he reportedly also ordered one of his aides to “remove some material”.
“The following day, when VP Mnangagwa came to the stand, he saw a board that had pictures of the late Father Zimbabwe and we suspect he was unhappy about it because some of the pictures were about Gukurahundi. We just saw his security coming back to collect the board and never returned it,” a source close to the Nkomo family said.
“But Mnangagwa, unlike Mphoko, asked one of his officials to leave his details with Nkomo family members manning the exhibition so that they would be able to collect the stuff after the event.
“After we engaged the head of security (Ngulube), VP Mphoko’s people on Friday returned 49 books that had been confiscated, meaning only one was missing, while we did not hear anything from Mnangagwa.” Source: NewsDay