HARARE - Vice President Joice Mujuru skipped the Zanu PF politburo meeting that was held in Harare yesterday, amid suggestions that she was considering boycotting altogether the party’s damp squib congress that starts in earnest tomorrow.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News last night that the embattled VP feared for her life following serious and ongoing threats against her, as well as other senior officials perceived to be loyal to her by her hardline party enemies.
Mujuru’s untenable standing in the party was worsened after President Robert Mugabe openly accused her yesterday — the first time he has done so since the brutal infighting engulfing the party burst into the open a few months ago — accusing her of plotting to topple him.
Sources say Mujuru is expected to respond to Mugabe’s allegations this week.
Addressing service chiefs and war veterans at Zanu PF’s headquarters in Harare, Mugabe alleged that the naivety of Mujuru’s plot against him included her working closely with MDC formations, as well as soliciting regime change funds from the West ahead of last year’s elections.
WHERE'S EVERYBODY?...President Robert Mugabe cuts a lone figure at the Zanu PF meeting in Harare. Pic: Annie Mpalume
He also claimed that the beleaguered widow of the late liberation war icon, Solomon Mujuru — who is universally credited with installing the nonagenarian as Zanu PF’s leader way back in the 1970s — did not want the ruling party to go for the disputed elections.
And as Mugabe viciously attacked his deputy, rowdy youths, who were brown-nosing Mugabe’s wife, Grace, at the same time, vowed not to allow the beleaguered VP anywhere near the party headquarters and the congress.
Mujuru was nowhere to be seen near the Zanu PF headquarters, with sources telling the Daily News that she was not likely to attend this week’s congress, which is now being firmly steered against her by party enemies.
The multiplicity of allegations against Mujuru, which range from corruption allegations to gross abuse of office, as well as the more serious treason charges, could end the VP’s presidential ambitions — at least for now.
Youths who were baying for Mujuru’s blood vowed yesterday that she would be blocked from registering and attending congress.
Kudzanayi Chipanga, the Zanu PF deputy youth chairperson, bluntly warned Mujuru and her sympathisers to stay away.
“We are giving a warning to Zanu PF members, especially senior party officials who have been implicated (in the treason and assassination plots) that they no longer support the president (and should) not come to our congress as we don’t want to see them.
“If they decide to come, they are coming at their own risk as anything can happen to them. We cannot guarantee their safety,” he said.
He declined to state the specific action that he and his group planned to take in the event that Mujuru decided to attend the congress.
“We want to politically eliminate them and we shall cross bridges when we get there. As youths, we are the vanguard of the party and we are not going to allow people who are accused of wanting to kill our dear president to come near him at the congress,” Chipanga added.
He said the political leaders behind the alleged plot to oust Mugabe were “known” in the party, adding that the majority of them had already received votes of no confidence against them.
“We know them,” he said. “This is why we saw the senior politicians being booted out and we now hear some of them want to come to congress.
“We dare warn them not to try to provoke us. No matter how senior the person is, we don’t want to see them there.”
The apprehension engulfing the Mujuru camp was subsequently given fresh impetus by Mugabe’s assault on the VP.
Although journalists from the private media were asked to excuse themselves from Mugabe’s meeting with service chiefs and war veterans, State media journalists were allowed to stay behind.
The Daily News heard that Mugabe made it clear that it was time for serious change in the faction-torn party.
The meeting was attended by Air Marshal Perence Shiri, General Constantine Chiwenga, Rtd Major General Happyton Bonyongwe and the newly-elected war veterans leadership among many other prominent players.
Mugabe reportedly outlined his roadmap for the congress and beyond, with the 90-year-old leader exhorting attendees to remain united and not be “as chaotic” as the party had lately become.
Sources who attended the meeting also told the Daily News that Mugabe blamed most of the party’s woes on Mujuru.
“Mugabe said the divisions in Zanu PF were being perpetrated by the vice president whom he said was keen to unite with the opposition MDC in government in the hope that they would get aid from the Western world,” said one source.
Meanwhile, the embattled Mujuru and most of her allies including party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa were conspicuously absent from Zanu PF’s last politiburo meeting, convened ahead of the central committee meeting today.
Mugabe is said to have remarked, “Where is everybody?” when he walked into an almost empty room where the meeting was taking place.
In a sign of deepening internal suspicions, politburo attendees were also reportedly thoroughly frisked as they entered the meeting room, with all of them ordered to leave their cellphones outside.