I’m no witch, says Robert Mugabe after ice cream ‘poisoning’ PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 03 September 2017 10:19

I’m no witch, says Robert Mugabe after ice cream ‘poisoning’

Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg 30/08/2017

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has denied that he is a witch after being accused of casting an evil spell on his deputy and potential successor.

Another theory among supporters of Emmerson Mnangagwa is that an illness was caused by poisoned ice cream from the Mugabe family dairy.

The 74-year-old was airlifted to hospital in South Africa almost three weeks ago after falling sick at a political rally that Mr Mugabe was addressing.

The ruling Zanu-PF party said the vice-president had eaten stale food which caused a severe bout of food poisoning, but Mr Mnangagwa’s supporters insisted a rival faction of the party had sought to kill him.

Nicknamed the Crocodile for his role in the massacre of political opponents in the 1980s, he leads the so-called Lacoste grouping which is vying with another led by Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace, known as Generation 40 because of their relative youth, to take over the party when the president, aged 93, dies.

Mr Mnangagwa spoke for the first time about this illness this week, telling an audience that he was very concerned for his life.

Doctors are said to have told him that his liver had been damaged by poisoning with palladium, a rare metal mined in Russia and South Africa that is combined with platinum to make catalytic converters.

Mr Mugabe rejected suggestions of any complicity, saying his deputy was simply too weak. He also denounced claims by Mr Mnangagwa’s associates in his stronghold in Masvingo, central Zimbabwe, that the president had resorted to witchcraft to harm his deputy. “During the armed struggle, we never had weak cadres like what we are seeing today,” the president said.

“This is not the Masvingo tradition that we know. Now the talk of witchcraft is the order of the day. Some are even saying the president is a witch, how many did I kill?

“We have travelled a long journey together and why kill today? Down with your witchcraft issues.”

Claims of assassination, poisoning and witchcraft are not uncommon within politics. The husband of Joice Mujuru, the former Zimbabwean vice-president, died in a mysterious house fire, while Mr Mnangagwa previously claimed his office had been sprinkled with cyanide, leaving his private secretary battling for her life.

In South Africa, President Zuma has claimed “foreign forces” have tried to poison him in order to thwart his economic transformation agenda.

The battle over the succession in Zimbabwe has become increasingly bitter in recent months, with supporters of both camps trading insults online, and Mrs Mugabe accusing the vice-president of plotting against her husband. This week Mr Mnangagwa told mourners at a colleague’s funeral that he was “too concerned” about his own chances of survival into old age.

“I would not know that after surviving this close shave, how many more years would the creator allow me to live,” he said. “He could very well come and yank me away. God is above everything. If he decides to take you, there is no question.”

Mr Mugabe, who has astounded his countrymen with longevity, said even senior politicians fell ill from time to time. “It is common to be sick. We often hear that when a leader falls sick he would have been bewitched, no.” he said. “That’s why we say please, please go to doctors and hospitals for constant check-ups.”

Police have said they cannot investigate the alleged poisoning because no official complaint has been made.


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