VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko is reportedly scouting for a multi-million-dollar upmarket house in Harare’s leafy suburbs at a time government is experiencing a financial squeeze of immeasurable proportions, NewsDay has established
NewsDay understands that Mphoko’s wife, Laurinda, last week turned down three upmarket mansions, among them a $3 million castle in the capital’s leafy Ballantyne Park on the grounds that the property was“too small” for a person of the VP’s calibre.
Mphoko was appointed VP alongside Emmerson Mnangagwa last month following a major shake-up in the ruling Zanu PF party which saw the ousting of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru for allegedly plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe, who turns 91 next month.
The Second VP, who is also National Healing and Reconcilliation minister, like other top government officials, is entitled to stay in a government house among his other perks.
Impeccable sources told NewsDay that Mphoko was initially scheduled to move into a government house left vacant by the late Vice-President Joseph Msika in Mandara, but his wife allegedly vehemently refused, saying she wanted a house of their own.
The sources said last week she went around shopping in Glen Lorne, Borrowdale Brooke and Ballantyne Park, but was not pleased by some of the properties on offer.
“She rejected one in Glen Lorne that was going for $1,5 million, saying it was small. Before she rejected the $3 million house in Ballantyne Park, she had rejected another in Borrowdale Brooke worth $2 million, claiming many government ministers lived in the area and she was not comfortable with that arrangement,” the source added.
Ironically, Mugabe’s private blue-roofed mansion is located in the same area.
NewsDay could not get a comment from Mphoko yesterday as his mobile number was not reachable.
Media, Information and Publicity deputy secretary Regis Chikoore said he was out of the country and referred NewsDay to Ivanhoe Gurira, principal director of international communication services in the same ministry, whose mobile phone went unanswered.
Mphoko, who is also Zanu PF co-chairman, hails from the Matabeleland region and reportedly has no residential property in Harare.
Prior to his appointment as VP, he was staying at the five-star Meikles Hotel from where he made frequent visits to Mugabe’s office.