Gweru – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says he will seek the arrest of his critics within the fragmented ruling Zanu-PF party who reportedly accused him of witchcraft following the alleged "poisoning" of his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa at a rally three weeks ago.
Mnangagwa was airlifted from a youth rally in Gwanda after he started having diarrhea and vomiting, resulting in him spending time at a South African hospital.
Mugabe told his supporters at another rally in Gweru on Friday that Mnangagwa was now fit after seeking medical attention.
"He (Mnangagwa) came to State House three days ago in the company of his doctor who explained that he was not poisoned," said Mugabe looking at Mnangagwa who also attended the Gweru youth rally.
Following the Gwanda incident where Mnangagwa complained of sickness after eating some snacks at the high table, Mugabe said his critics within his ruling party were now accusing him of witchcraft.
"Those who are accusing others in the party of witchcraft must know that it is unlawful to make such unfounded allegations. This is the reason why our colonisers enacted the Witchcraft Act which we are still using today. So if you dare call anyone a witch we will make sure that you are arrested in terms of laws," said Mugabe.
Zimbabwean police have since arrested a Mnangagwa ally, Energy Mutodi, for averring that Mnangagwa was poisoned during the Gwanda rally.
Mugabe last week told his supporters during the burial of two national icons at the southern African country’s national shrine that some people within his party were accusing him of witchcraft.
"Some are even saying the president is a witch, how many did I kill? We have travelled a long journey together and why kill today?" said Mugabe.
For his part, Mnangagwa issued a statement on Thursday claiming that he was not poisoned after eating some ice cream from the Mugabe-owned Gushungo Dairies.
'False and mischievous'
"No such thing ever occurred. The insinuation that I partook of ice cream from the said dairy is false and mischievous, and being peddled by unscrupulous elements with the sinister agenda of creating a rift between me and the First Family, lower market confidence in products from the dairy and cause unnecessary alarm and despondency among peace-loving Zimbabweans," said Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa is reportedly leading a faction within Zanu-PF calling itself "Team Lacoste" that is angling to take over power from the 93 year-old Mugabe when he eventually leaves office. Another faction made up of young Turks calling itself Generation 40 is backing First Lady Grace Mugabe to torpedo Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions. However, both Mnangagwa and the First Lady have publicly denied harboring presidential ambitions.