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Farirai Madhumbe | While former President Robert Mugabe received a mouth watering golden handshake from the state which left tongues wagging for days, his former deputy Phelekezela Mphoko will not be so fortunate.

The influential war vets association is demanding that Mphoko be denied a similar golden handshake on the basis that he “deserted his government position.”

The local Newsday reports that Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association, (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda said, “He is just seeking public relevance. What we know is that at the time Operation Restore Legacy was initiated, he was in Japan on government business and he chose not to come back to the country and instead went AWOL,” he said.

He was not fired from government and when President Robert Mugabe resigned he was supposed to be acting President, but he deserted.”

Matemadanda said Mphoko should therefore not expect Zimbabweans to pay pension benefits for a person who allegedly absconded his government post.

“He can’t talk of a pension because he was not fired neither did he tender a resignation letter. By the time President Mnangagwa was appointed and inaugurated, Mphoko had deserted, he never bothered to come back and submit himself to government,” he said.

Mphoko has through his lawyer, Welshman Ncube, written to government demanding his exit package.

The ZNLWVA secretary-general, a close ally of Mnangagwa, led the fight to dislodge Mugabe from power.

Matemadanda said Mnangagwa did not hold any grudges against Mphoko, saying he had shown this by honouring government obligations to main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

“He is a progressive leader who departed from the politics of hate when he did us proud by visiting MDC leader and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and giving him his dues which had been held back by Mugabe for years,” he said.

 Mphoko was not reachable yesterday while his lawyer, Ncube, was not answering his phone.