Zimbabwe ex-Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko 'on the run'

In Summary

• His lawyer said Mphoko feared being detained and poisoned.

Phelekezela Mphoko.
Phelekezela Mphoko.
Image: BBC

Zimbabwe's former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko is being treated as a fugitive after fleeing from anti-corruption officials.

Mr Mphoko was due at a police station to make a statement on allegations being levelled against him but drove away when his car was approached by the officials, AFP news agency reports.

His lawyer said Mr Mphoko feared being detained and poisoned.

He also denied he was on the run, calling the phrase "sensationalist".

Mr Mphoko was a co-vice-president under Robert Mugabe.

He served alongside current President Emmerson Mnangagwa when Mr Mugabe was ousted by the military in November 2017, but the two have fallen out.

'Poison fears'

Mr Mphoko was part of a faction that wanted Mr Mugabe's wife, Grace, to succeed him rather than Mr Mnangagwa, South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper reports.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) wants to talk to him about alleged abuse of office.

Mr Mphoko's lawyer, Zibusiso Ncube, told AFP that his client was willing to answer questions, but left when he heard the police "had instructions to detain him".

Mr Ncube told the BBC's Shingai Nyoka that his client feared for his life and was concerned that he would be "injected with a poison".

'Not a fugitive'

The former vice-president is prepared to stand trial and denies claims he abused his office after allegedly storming a police station demanding the release of an official, Mr Ncube said.

Mr Mphoko "is not a fugitive, and he hasn't been charged with anything", he added.

"He would never run away. The allegations are sensationalist."

Earlier this month, the president fired Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira "for conduct inappropriate for a minister of government" after her arrest over the disappearance of millions of dollars from the country's pension fund.

ZACC alleges the money went missing during her time as minister of labour and social welfare. Ms Mupfumira denies the allegations.