Even the fiction writers at Herald House had a tough time trying to build up the rÃ©sumÃ© of a man who nobody had ever heard of. They must have rummaged through the yellowed pages of the Zipra files, looking for a helicopter or bridge that he bombed during the liberation struggle â€“ because, you know, liberation credentials equal leadership skills. Mphoko himself desperately played his part in trying to inflate his microscopic track record â€“ more of that a little later.
Before Mphoko was sworn in as VP, there had been no Zapu representation in the presidium since the death of Joseph Msika in 2009. Prior to Msika, the position was held by everybodyâ€™s favourite Vice President, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo. Prior to the unification of Zapu and Zanu (PF), Umdalawethu, as he was affectionately called, led a party whose supporters are in the minority. But in spite of the numbers, he transcended tribal barriers and became â€œFather Zimbabwe.â€ Mugabe may have named a road after himself in every town, but even he knows that those signposts will be smelted into beer mugs and wine goblets for the big party that will follow immediately after heaven or hell embrace him. For anybody being nominated to a position that is synonymous with Nkomo, there canâ€™t be a bigger pair of shoes to fill. It is understandable if the current (or future) VP does not measure up to Nkomo. But Mphoko has got to be the slice of humble chimodho that you offer to your child when you canâ€™t afford the chocolate cake he asked for.
Why Mphoko doesnâ€™t measure up to Nkomo
Joshua Nkomo is the original struggle leader. It all began with him. In trying to hype himself up, Mphoko drowned himself in his own body fluids.
â€œWe drank our own urine in one of the operations (in Sipulilo) when we had travelled for more than 60 kilometres to a place where there was no water. We opened our water bottles, shot into them and waited for the acids to evaporate. We then ate Russian chocolate and drank our own urine,â€ said Mphoko.
If, at that exact moment of urine drinking confession, an artist had been chipping away at a granite boulder, creating a statue of Mphoko, the sculptor immediately stuffed a stick of dynamite inside the rock and walked away in disgust.
And ever since this nauseating revelation, all of Mphokoâ€™s mystifying deeds could easily be explained. Â And when he does mess up, as can be expected, we all flap our hands and say â€œoh, itâ€™s that wee drinker, donâ€™t mind himâ€.
Mphoko is nobodyâ€™s hero
Nkomo was a defender of the weak. Even when his own life was in danger, Nkomo sat down with his arch enemy, Mugabe, to sign the Unity Accord of 1987 which ensured the survival of people who were being raped, tortured and killed daily in Matebeleland. He did not have to return from exile, risking his own life.
In contrast, Mphokoâ€™s favourite pastime is making fun of societyâ€™s most vulnerable people.
â€œI have got my own views regarding vending, where you can find an able-bodied man seated and selling tomatoes. There are better things to do for a man who is fit except those who are indisposed or physically challenged… We cannot tolerate a man who is fit, sitting down and selling tomatoes.â€ Mphoko said.
In just three sentences, Mphoko not only illustrated how far removed he is from reality but he also showed that he has absolutely no concern for anyone who might not have his privileges.
As we speak, many bank account holders have been unable to withdraw their money, thanks to Zanu (PF) looting the Reserve Bank. The RBZ is encouraging citizens to use plastic money and other alternative forms of payment. Mphokoâ€™s supermarket chain, Choppies, has however announced a â€œcash onlyâ€ policy.
Greed and corruption
No discussion on Mphoko would be complete without mentioning his yearlong stay in the five star Rainbow Towers. Mphokoâ€™s wife apparently snubbed the $3,5 million mansion offered to her family by the taxpayers. The poverty and homelessness of many citizens did not bother the Mphokos one bit, as they ate fine meals and slept on Egyptian cotton linen up in the gleaming Rainbow Towers.
Does anybody respect Mphoko?
In 2015, at a Chimanimani rally, a leopard skin clad Mphoko announced Grace Mugabeâ€™s arrival to the podium; you know, like a Zulu style praise poet. He got no response from the audience for his slogans and then somebody switched off the microphone in the middle of his performance.
Allegations of tribalism followed and some asked why Mphoko had been cut off before the conclusion of his praise and worship of Grace. But the more important question is why a whole vice president was playing bootlicker for Grace. I canâ€™t imagine Joshua Nkomo dancing and praising Sally Mugabe.
Hands off corrupt Moyo says Mphoko
Zanu (PF) hates to see anyone prosper without them first paying homage to its mafia system. It must have irked the ruling partyâ€™s Mafioso when Strive Masiyiwa proposed to open the first privately owned mobile cellular company. So Mugabeâ€™s vindictive thugs did what they do best; sabotage. Masiyiwaâ€™s license application was shoved right to the bottom of some government clerkâ€™s in-tray where it gathered cobwebs. When he learned of the plot to sabotage Masiyiwa, a very upset Nkomo said â€œthis is not what I fought for.â€
In 1997, when Mugabe travelled to Europe â€“ back when he was still welcome there â€“ he left Nkomo in charge. It was during this period that Nkomo pushed through Masiyiwaâ€™s operating license, thereby opening up the airwaves to a private operator. Nkomoâ€™s successor, Joseph Msika must have been cut from the same cloth. It was he who attempted to put an end to the looting of a then productive Kondozi Estate.
When the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission attempted to arrest Jonathan Moyo for using Zimdef as his personal ATM, acting President Mphoko had the opportunity to follow in Nkomoâ€™s footsteps. But instead, Mphoko saved Moyo from arrest before summoning the commissioners for a lecture on Zanu (PF)â€™s policy of selective application of the law.
No statue for Mphoko
Father Zimbabwe is immortalised at the corner of 8th and Joshua Nkomo Street where his imposing statue stands. There will never be a Phelekezela Mphoko Street â€“ unless he names the fruit and vegetable aisle in Choppies Supermarket after himself. There will certainly be no statue in his honour, not even a gruesome Dominic Benhura sculpture.
My pen is capped.
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