ACTING President Phelekezela Mphoko yesterday scoffed at embattled war veterans chairman Christopher Mutsvangwa’s claims that he deserted his comrades in Mozambique at the height of the liberation struggle to enjoy life with his then wife-to-be, Laurinda.
The couple wed in 1977 with former Umkhonto WeSizwe guerilla and current South African President Jacob Zuma as best man.
Responding for the first time to the infamous claim made by Mutsvangwa two weeks ago, the former Zipra high command member described the former Minister for War Veterans as a mad man.
“Someone sees the sun rising from the east and he says it’s the west. Lolo luhlanya (that’s a mad person). Please take him to Ingutsheni Hospital,” said Cde Mphoko to thunderous applause while addressing a meeting in Bulawayo.
“If you talk about my wife, you irritate me because that’s the person I love, that’s my best friend. All my 16 years in the armed struggle, God knows I never left the struggle.
“I was loyal to the struggle and loyal to Zipra. I never sold out. I’m a son of a hero and my grandfather wayeliqhawe likaMzilikazi. I’ve never been a sell-out and will never be”.
Cde Mphoko said he joined the liberation struggle at a tender age and had committed himself to its cause to this day.
He recalled how at some point during the struggle, he shared a room with fellow commanders — Dumiso Dabengwa and Akim Ndlovu (late) — and they would discuss relationships.
Cde Mphoko said they would ponder whether or not they would die without children.
Mutsvangwa claimed in comments published in the private media, that Cde Mphoko “went AWOL” from Zapu’s military wing, Zipra, after he fell in love with Laurinda.
Cde Mphoko admitted meeting Laurinda, whom he described as “isidandane sami”, during his stint in Mozambique after being posted to the country by his superiors.
He said he operated in the neighbouring country under the ZIPA operation (a joint operation between Zanla and Zipra) and remained loyal to the struggle until its end when he started a family at the age of 40.
“Let’s not say by virtue of what we did in the struggle we’re above everyone else. I know a lot about the border with Mozambique because I operated several logistics bases there during the war using my bare feet. But some of us asizitshayi’sifuba (we don’t brag) about what we did.
“What matters now is that we’ve Zimbabwe and the challenge in our hands is what we’re doing to take it forward,” said Cde Mphoko.
Earlier on, Zanu-PF deputy secretary for the Women’s League, who is also Bulawayo Provincial Minister of State, Cde Eunice Nomthandazo Moyo, blasted Mutsvangwa for trying to denigrate Cde Mphoko by poking his nose into Zipra issues.
She said the war veterans chairman was not a Zipra cadre hence he had no moral ground to talk about Zipra activities, which he has no knowledge about.
“Cde Mphoko was in Mozambique on assignment by Umdala (Joshua Nkomo) and not what we hear. People know the truth and real war veterans know the truth,” Cde Moyo said.
“We know Cde Mphoko’s history because we worked with him. Let the Zipra ex-combatants tell their own story. In any case who went to the struggle and didn’t come back with a wife? If one doesn’t come from your side don’t talk about us because we don’t talk about yours.”