FORMER Indigenisation minister Francis Nhema and ex-Minister of State in the President's Office, Flora Buka were on Friday blocked from greeting Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a state function in Chirumanzu in Midlands province, it has been established.
Mnangagwa was commissioning 68 A1 Settlement Permits in Chirumanzu on his first government assignment after he was appointed Vice-President two weeks ago.
Mnangagwa is Acting President in the absence of Mugabe who is in the Far East on his annual vacation.Reliable sources said Nhema who is the Shurugwi North MP and Buka had joined others who had lined up to greet the VP on rival.
But, said a source who is a government official, Mnangagwa loyalists kicked the two from the queue of officials lining up to greet Mnangagwa and told them to take seats among the ordinary people gathered for the function.The official said the two were accused of sympathising with ousted VP Joice Mujuru ahead of Zanu PF 6th National People's Congress held in Harare early this month.
"They were also not permitted to sit in the VIP tent. They quickly retreated and had to sit in the hot sun throughout the programme together with ordinary villagers," the source said.
Another source said the Mnangagwa loyalists who humiliated the former ministers comprised locals from Chirumanzu and other Zanu PF officials who had come from elsewhere.
The source said it was clear these people ejected Nhema and Buka under instruction from someone else.
"People were left dumbfounded because no one expected this to happen at a government function," said the source. "It appears some overzealous people have become so over protective of Mnangagwa. What they do not know is that they are actually doing more harm than good to Mnangagwa's image."Nhema and Buka were yesterday not picking up calls.
The Nhema, Buka incident happened barely two days after Mnangagwa apologised to deputy mines minister Fred Moyo who was similarly chucked out of the new VP's celebratory party at his rural home in Zvishavane the previous week.Moyo had joined other Zanu PF members who were celebrating the elevation of Mnangagwa by President Robert Mugabe.
Moyo was accompanied by his brother, Zimbabwe's Ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Moyo.After being initially allowed in, Moyo was allegedly quickly fished out reportedly by Zvishavane-Ngezi MP John Holder, former MP Larry Mavhima and Gokwe-Kana MP Owen Ncube who then kicked him out.
Holder, Mavhima and Ncube could not be reached for comment yesterday.Moyo said Mnangagwa called him to apologise for the embarrassing incident.
Mberengwa North MP Tafanana Zhou and Industry deputy minister Chiratidzo Iris Mabuwa were also reportedly kicked out from Mnangagwa's Zvishavane party.
Media and democracy scholar Pedzisai Ruhanya said such behaviour by Mnangagwa loyalists had the potential to destroy Mnangagwa's reputation. He doubted that Mnangagwa endorsed such behaviour.
"Surely it cannot be a direction of Mnangagwa. He is smart enough to know that he is now a national leader to go about discriminating people according to allegiance. He knows that as a VP, he must be homeless and have a national outlook," Ruhanya said.
He said, although naturally all Zanu PF members were intolerant, Mnangagwa was now a national leader by virtue of his office.Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said if Mnangagwa was sincere that he did not condone intolerance, he should apologise to Nhema and Buka the same way he did to Moyo. "He should also make a statement condemning what is happening," Mandaza said.