By Staff Reporter
Harare, June 27, 2016 – UNDER-FIRE Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has broken his silence over his controversial 15 month stay at Harare’s Rainbow Towers saying the hotel he is ensconced was a government accommodation.
Mphoko was addressing journalists in Bulawayo on Sunday, where he also dismissed corruption allegations in which he was being said to be stampeding power utility ZESA to secure an expensive loan from a Botswana firm in which his son Siqokoqela had interests.
Since his surprise appointment as one of the country’s two VPs in December 2014, Mphoko has never known of any other home except the former Sheraton Hotel.
Rough estimates say Mphoko’s stay in the hotel have cost government in excess of $300 000 in tax payers’ money.
Mphoko has also been accused of living in the hotel together with some close relatives.
But speaking publicly for the first time over the issue, Mphoko came guns blazing saying those who accuse him of being corrupt and extravagant were least informed about the operations of government.
Mphoko said the Rainbow Towers was as good as government accommodation as the state has shares in the hotel.
“The day I was appointed VP of this country, I was staying at Meikles Hotel. According to government regulations, I had to move out of Meikles because it is a private hotel. I moved to a government hotel which is Sheraton (Rainbow Towers). The government has got shares there,” Mphoko said.
Reports also say Mphoko and his wife have refused to take three house offers by government insisting they were not befitting of his VP status.
This, it had further been reported, included a $3 million mansion in one of Harare’s plush suburbs.
“People don’t know what they are talking about. The house that the government has bought me is not even $3 million. It’s 1 million and something. I live in a government hotel. It’s as good as staying in a government house. It’s as good as (Morgan) Tsvangirai who is staying in a government house. Tsvangirai is staying in a government house which is as good as staying at Sheraton.”
Mphoko’s continued stay in a hotel has widely been condemned by Zanu PF opponents who accuse the ruling party of extravagance and misplaced priorities.
A group of activists led by vendors associations have turned on the pressure for the former Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa to consider the plight of suffering Zimbabweans by vacating the hotel to save government’s financial resources.
Journalists and activists were on Sunday arrested by police during one of the demonstrations against Mphoko.