Zimbabwean Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa is in hospital following a suspected poisoning scare.
Mnangagwa left the venue of President Robert Mugabe’s rally in Gwanda, 560km south-west of Harare, Saturday in an ambulance and was immediately airlifted to Gweru after he started vomiting amid fears he could have been poisoned.
Several Zanu-PF sources said he was admitted to a private hospital in the Midlands capital.
Mnagagwa is not the first to suffer food poisoning at a Zanu-PF function. Since 2015, Zanu-PF ministers Shuvai Mahofa and Samuel Undenge have survived food poisoning allegedly during party events.
The VP, who appeared energetic as he chanted Zanu-PF slogans before Mugabe’s address, fell ill a few minutes after his boss started speaking to thousands of people at Phelandaba Stadium.
Panic gripped the VIP tent where he was sitting with other top government officials that included fellow Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko and Cabinet ministers, after the senior politician started vomiting.
State Security minister Kembo Mohadi was alerted that the VP was vomiting by a senior Central Intelligence Organisation official before the ambulance crew was summoned. Mohadi escorted the VP to the ambulance.
Zanu PF officials could not confirm last night the cause of Mnangagwa’s illness but some claimed he was in a bad shape.
Mohadi claimed he did not know anything about the incident when contacted for comment. “I know nothing, who told you that I know anything? I am sorry I don’t know anything like that,” he said.
Tension was high in the VIP tent as ministers avoided greeting. Mnangagwa and Mphoko did not shake hands while several ministers in opposing camps were seen ignoring each other.
Mnangagwa had reportedly offered to resign from his two positions as Mugabe’s deputy in government and Zanu-PF after he was accused of plotting against the veteran ruler.
Meanwhile, police and Zanu-PF youth militias had a torrid time blocking party supporters from leaving the venue of the rally where Mugabe rambled for over an hour with an un-inspiring speech.
Boredom was clearly apparent among the many at the stadium as Mugabe went on about history, resulting in multitudes trying to leave the venue, only to be stopped by police and Border Gezi youth militias.
Anti-riot police had to be called in at one of the gates facing Jahunda township as tensions boiled over with police threatening to beat up anyone who dared to leave. “You cannot leave the stadium while the president is still addressing. No one is going to be allowed to leave,” one of the anti-riot police officers told the angry crowd who wanted to leave the stadium.
Mugabe told the rally that his wife Grace did not attend as she had gone to South Africa to receive medical treatment after her leg was accidentally run over by a car at Harare International airport recently. “She went to South Africa to seek treatment for her knee injury. She was saying doctors are still attending to her,” Mugabe said, adding the First Lady was expected back home on Friday.
He said did not say much about his succession, a departure from his previous addresses where he attacked the military for meddling in Zanu-PF affairs.