Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addressing a crowd of thousands of Zanu-PF supporters in Gweru. Picture: ANA Reporter

Gweru ‑ President Robert Mugabe on Friday, said his deputy, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sickness three weeks ago was not a result of “food” poisoning.

Mugabe told close to 30 000 Zanu-PF supporters in Gweru on Friday afternoon, that they had conducted all tests on possible “food” poisoning, but the results showed that Mnangagwa’s sickness was not because of anything he had ingested.

“There was no food poisoning. It is not food poisoning, no!” the 93-year-old Zimbabwean leader thundered, without ruling out the “poisoning” aspect.

“He is now fit again. He is strong now. He is back.”

Mugabe said allegations that Mnangagwa fell sick because he had eaten ice cream from Alpha and Omega Dairies - a company owned by the Mugabes - was disturbing.

Three weeks ago, Mnangagwa had to be airlifted to Gweru for immediate attention, before being flown to South Africa for further treatment, where doctors said they had detected traces of palladium poison, which had partly damaged part of his liver. The non-radioactive poison, it was reported, will require a systems flush over the next two months.

Meanwhile, First Lady Grace Mugabe -- who was granted diplomatic immunity in South African amidst allegations that she assaulted 20-year-old South African, Gabriella Engels, at a plush hotel in Sandton -- quoted numerous Bible verses through her speech. However, in veiled attacks, she went for those harbouring ambitions to succeed Mugabe. 

“You should not only be loved by a province of certain tribe,” she said, in apparent reference to Mnangagwa, who has openly been supported by the Midlands and Masvingo provinces -- largely constituted by the Karanga tribe.

“Midlands and Masvingo, words coming from these two provinces are not consistent with what the provincial leaders are saying. Down with the indiscipline we are witnessing in Zanu-PF.”

To show support for Mnangagwa, his supporters cheered him on when he rose to chant party slogans.

The front row was occupied by the Mugabe's, Mnangagwa and his wife Auxillia, more than 15 ministers, Zanu-PF youth league leaders and Zanu-PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere.

African News Agency