BULAWAYO – Vice President Kembo Mohadi yesterday spoke of his immense admiration for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while subtly laying bare his own higher political ambitions.
The reserved Mohadi told worshippers, who packed the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Hall here for a church gathering organised for Mnangagwa, how he saw similarities between himself and his boss — suggesting in the process that he was destined to become president in future.
Mnangagwa was the guest of honour at the ceremony which was organised by the Faith for the Nation Campaign — a grouping of inter-denominational church groups — to thank God for the peaceful transition from former president Robert Mugabe’s administration.
“I have been minister of National State Security, minister of Defence … I think I am following in your footsteps. If that’s the criteria to be where you are I think I am on track,” Mohadi told Mnangagwa — who before he became vice president served as State Security, Justice and Defence minister.
In turn, the 75 year-old Zanu PF leader jokingly reminded Mohadi that he had gone through the grill — including withstanding nine youth interface rallies where he was roundly denounced, in addition to later jumping the border, before he became president.
“My VP said he has been the minister of State Security, minister of Defence and is following my footsteps. He needs nine interface rallies. He also needs to be a border jumper,” Mnangagwa said to huge applause and much laughter among the gathering.
Zanu PF insiders have claimed that until his recent elevation, Mohadi had for long been coveting the VP’s post, which on the previous occasion went to political lightweight and rank outsider Phelekezela Mphoko.
Mohadi was last week sworn in together with former Commander of the Defence Forces Constantino Chiwenga as a deputy in government.
His elevation came as he was said to have sought divine blessings, with critics pointing to his widely publicised consultations with self-styled Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri last year.
“I am seeing you going higher and higher, nothing bad will happen to you, I am seeing promotion coming your way, I am seeing a crown on your head, because I am seeing the spiritual realm,” Bushiri said then while preaching to Mohadi, with the Zimbabwean minister continuously saying: “I receive, man of God.”
Bushiri claimed Mohadi was being targeted by rivals who were now lining up witch-doctors to stop his imminent political rise.
The prophecy was widely interpreted in the context of Zanu PF's ugly factional and succession wars.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa urged Zimbabweans yesterday to forgive one another — adding that people must live in harmony, particularly as the country heads towards this year’s harmonised elections.
“I encourage the Church to preach the gospel of love, peace and forgiveness, forgiveness and forgiveness. All of us, let us love one another. Let us preach peace, peace, unity and unity and forgiveness,” he said, adding that his administration respected the nation’s diverse religious values.
Mnangagwa also took the opportunity to thank Zimbabweans for sympathising with him after his poisoning in Gwanda last year and his subsequent sacking from both the government and Zanu PF.
“Today as we reflect and appreciate where we come from, we can say God delivers those who trust in him. I want to thank all the people of Zimbabwe. You prayed for me after what happened in Gwanda when there was some bit of poisoning to which I spent some days without knowing what was happening. Your prayers were heard by God.
“I want to thank you again for your prayers during the days I was a border jumper. I also want to thank you for the fact that from the time I came back you are still praying for me. I am today here not to be prayed for but to praise and worship the Lord with you because He is the one who made possible everything that we are doing today,” he told the gathering.
Zanu PF’s ugly succession wars took an ominous turn in August last year after Mnangagwa fell sick during an interface rally in Gwanda — a development which his backers said was a poison attack by his G40 rivals.
Mnangagwa was later airlifted to South Africa where he had emergency surgery.
Former first lady Grace Mugabe claimed that the poisoning allegations were calculated to destroy the then First Family’s businesses and nothing was said about investigating the incident after that.
Mnangagwa later suggested to hordes of his supporters who had converged at Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu, for the late Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s memorial service — not for the first time — that he was poisoned in the same way Mahofa was in 2015.
Yesterday, Mnangagwa praised SA-based businessman Justice Maphosa who was in attendance at the gathering, for assisting him after he was fired by Mugabe. Maphosa runs the annual Gwanda gospel festival.
“Justice Maphosa was requested to come here by Reverend Wutaunashe to say how he helped me out but he avoided it. He is very humble. I thank him, but I believe he is the tool of God,” he said.