HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF is on fire over contentious claims that General Solomon Mujuru plotted, with his much-harassed widow Joice, to oust and assassinate the nonagenarian before the revered late liberation war icon’s charred remains were found after a mysterious inferno at his Beatrice farm in 2011.
The divisive allegations against Gen Mujuru, whose funeral at the Heroes Acre in Harare drew the largest crowd ever seen at the burial site, are contained in a report prepared by Zanu PF’s disciplinary committee and was adopted by the party’s politburo last Thursday.
Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday described the claims as “scandalous”, saying it now raised questions around the death of the liberation war pioneer and why the party’s leaders had still seen it fit to bury him at Heroes Acre despite knowing about these grave allegations.
On the other hand, analysts said it was now “a fait accompli” that the brawling ruling party was destined to split along factional lines, especially after the recent controversial expulsion from the party of the popular former VP Mujuru, as well as the ill-thought attacks on her respected late husband, Solomon.
At the same time, the family of the late army commander was said to be planning an urgent meeting to discuss the “disturbing and extremely serious” allegations, what the allegations meant and whether this had “played a part” in the death of the liberation pioneer.
Former Presidential Affairs minister, Didymus Mutasa, who has intimate knowledge of Mugabe and the ugly goings-on in Zanu PF, said the maligning of Gen Mujuru’s name raised questions around the manner the revered late army commander, whose nom de guerre was Rex Nhongo, had lost his life.
“It was never anything as serious as they are talking about now. Zvebhora musango hazvina kuitwa naMujuru ega (the late Mujuru was not the only one linked to the Bhora Musango project) and why now when he is dead?
“Is that correct? They should find better reasons for expelling Mai Mujuru, like the fact that she has too much support. Zvavarikuita tirikuzviona sekupenga kwavo (we regard their actions as madness),” Mutasa said.
He added that said his “blind and desperate” erstwhile comrades in Zanu PF should remember that “Zimbabweans understand the truth” and that “the country is now different from what it was in 1950s”.
“They should listen to the people. They are only where they are now because they have the ammunition and money,” he said.
Specifically asked if there was anyone among those in the post December 2014 Zanu PF politburo who would have mastered the courage to confront Gen Mujuru over the slew of charges he now faced in death, Mutasa said “there is not even one”.
“They would not have said anything if he was alive. And now we are beginning to question the death of Mujuru when they start to make all these allegations after his death. And to treat her (Joice) like that hazviitwe pachivanhu, yave shirikadzi (it’s not a done a think in our culture because she is a widow),” Mutasa said.
Another liberation war hero, Rugare Gumbo, who was once thrown in the dungeons by Mugabe during the liberation war, said the treatment that Gen Mujuru was getting even as he lay at the Heroes Acre showed that the politburo was packed with “pseudo revolutionaries”.
“Why now? Bhora musango happened years ago. The Mujuru family propped Mugabe in Mozambique and even here they were loyal to him. The issue of whether Mujuru urged the president to step down is neither here nor there because everyone is entitled to his opinion.
“But if Mujuru was here they would not have have done what they are doing now. This is a bigger plot to undermine the Mujurus’ credentials. It is sad because it is being done by pretenders, pseudo revolutionaries who are desperate. But the truth will eventually come out,” Gumbo said.
A Zanu PF central committee member who also spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday said the claim against the late Gen Mujuru was “scandalous”, and was leading Zimbabweans to “speculate anew” whether this meant that senior Zanu PF officials had been involved in the revered liberation pioneer’s death.
“This is not just so sad, it is scandalous beyond words. Unfortunately, this comes across as an unwitting confirmation in some people’s eyes that Zanu PF eliminated Rex because he wanted President Mugabe to retire and hand over power to a younger person.
“Many comrades are also desperately searching for logical answers as to why Rex was not confronted with these allegations when he was still alive, and why they still went on to bury him at Heroes Acre knowing fully well that they viewed him as a traitor,” the official said.
Another regional party official based in Mashonaland East said “everything that has been happening over the past four years is now very clear”.
“Solomon will never rest until the truth is out, and I pity all those who had a hand in taking his life so callously, as they will pay sooner or later. The only good thing here is that we now have a clearer idea of what happened.
“Our worry is that the same people may also harm his wife Amai Mujuru, seeing that they also fear her just as they feared her husband. Is this what the revolution has come to now,” the official said, adding that it was also now “clear” why Zanu PF bigwigs had pressured police last year to compile a dossier on her and to raid some companies where it was falsely alleged that she had investments.
According to the report prepared by Zanu PF’s disciplinary committee, the late army general and his widow Joice had been plotting since 2004 to oust Mugabe from power or to even kill him.
“From as far back as the 5th National People’s Congress, the party and Government was aware that Joice Mujuru was either leading or complicit in a plot to oust the President.
“She, then with the help of her late husband had plotted to thwart the President’s nomination at the 5th National People’s Congress, mainly through the agency of her cabal’s handpicked or imposed provincial chairmen.
“Even though she (Joice) says she should not be held accountable for the actions of her late husband, her actions after his death in 2011 show that she was much in the plot and continued with the scheme of the husband,” the report says.
Ironically, the late general is widely credited with catapulting Mugabe to the leadership of Zanu PF in the mid 1970s. However, he was also seen as the only senior party official who could challenge the nonagenarian.
His wife, who was once seen as Mugabe’s de facto successor, was booted out as Vice President of both the ruling party and the government last December following a vicious political assault on her by controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe.
The former VP was expelled from the party altogether last Thursday, the day that Grace resurfaced in the public domain after weeks of speculation regarding her health.