HARARE – Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko embarrassed himself on national television on Saturday evening when he alleged, with a straight face, that popular political leader Morgan Tsvangirai was once involved in an assassination attempt on the late national icon Joshua Nkomo and was also behind the Gukurahundi atrocities committed in the Tsholotsho area in Matabeleland North province in the early 1980s.
Here was a whole vice president, with neither shame nor compunction, grossly maligning and besmirching an innocent citizen and making a sick joke out of a national tragedy on national television.
Zimbabweans in general and the people from Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces in particular, know that it was the Zanu PF government with President Robert Mugabe at the helm that butchered and maimed innocent citizens in those provinces in a genocide that Mugabe himself has since admitted to, albeit dismissing it as having merely been “a moment of madness.”
Apparently appearing to be high on some illicit and noxious substance during prime time viewing on Saturday night, Mphoko shocked the nation with his unfounded and baseless allegations against the hugely popular MDC leader, allegations for which he will certainly have his day in court.
Next time, Mphoko’s minders must assist him to resist the temptation to parade himself in front of television cameras, particularly if he knows he has just smoked something illegal, toxic and dangerous as he appeared to have done on Saturday.
He may indulge in anything he fancies, but he must never make himself a national spectacle, humiliating both party and government by smearing an innocent citizen with blood in a desperate bid to make a murderer out of them.
It was a cheap script that only an illicit drug addict could have the courage to muster and parrot on national television.
The people of Matabeleland openly told president Tsvangirai during his tour of the region last week that it was Mugabe and his Zanu PF government that had engaged in the senseless massacre of innocent Zimbabweans in a crime against humanity that Mphoko now sought to blame on Tsvangirai.
Mphoko’s charade in front of television cameras was a miserable, freshman’s attempt at spin by a semi-literate Generation 40 (G40) kingpin who was clearly out of his depth.
He could have done better if he had sought the advice of some of his colleagues in the same faction who lost their parents during the senseless Gukurahundi period.
At least they could have sat him down to impress upon him that this was no laughing matter and that Gukurahundi was too grave a matter to clown about with.
It is now a matter of public record, as alleged by genuine war veterans, that Mphoko was flirting with and abusing under-age girls in Maputo both before and soon after independence and may have lost out on what actually happened in the country during that sombre political moment.
However, his absence from the country during this period gives him no licence to soil and humiliate himself by defaming Tsvangirai, whose only crime is that he has sought to engage the communities ravaged by Gukurahundi with the sole aim of hearing them out on what could be done by a new government to put closure to this sad and painful chapter of our national story.
Mphoko will soon be hearing from president Tsvangirai’s lawyers about his false and defamatory allegations. He surely owes the nation an elaborate substantiation of his fanciful allegations that do not befit the high office that he holds.
He will surely have his day in court.
Indeed, judging by his latest performance, what appeared all along to be a bastardised rendition of his name may be the apt version of what he truly is, after all!
* Tamborinyoka is presidential spokesperson and director of communications for the Movement for Democratic Change.