HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF hardliners are scared stiff of ousted former Vice President Joice Mujuru and this apparently started to manifest itself as way back as 2004, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa has said.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, Mutasa — a former close confidante of Mugabe — also revealed how hard and maliciously Mujuru’s Zanu PF enemies had worked ahead of the party’s disputed congress late last year to ensure that the widow of the late liberation war icon, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, would be ousted from power.
“Even at their illegal congress, they stopped her from attending because they thought she would cause problems for them. The Zanu PF leadership, including VaMugabe, is scared of Mai Mujuru.
“That is the reason why they are still attacking her and bringing all sorts of allegations against her,” Mutasa said.
In an ominous birthday speech earlier this year, Mugabe threatened that Mujuru and her allies would rot in jail for allegedly pocketing funds donated by well-wishers for Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress that was held in Harare in December last year.
This came on top of other untested accusations against her and her perceived sympathisers that ranged from plotting to oust and kill the nonagenarian, to engaging in witchcraft and abusing her office when she was in government.
To the chagrin of hardliners, Mujuru has vehemently and scornfully refuted all these charges, going on to challenge authorities to arrest her if they knew that she was guilty in any way.
Speaking at his belated 91st birthday celebrations in March, in the resort town of Victoria Falls, Mugabe also claimed that Mutasa, a Mujuru supporter, had struggled to account for party donations when the nonagenarian had allegedly confronted him last year.
But Mutasa challenged such “false claims” yesterday, saying those who believed that they had such evidence should report the matter to the police so that the law would take its course — adding that he had “absolutely nothing to fear”.
Commenting on the post-congress Zanu PF’s ongoing brutal purges and suspensions of its senior officials, he said this manifested the fear pervading the corridors of power and how many bigwigs would do “anything and everything” to ensure that they silenced Mujuru, who was for many years the firm favourite to succeed Mugabe.
“I am not shocked by the suspensions and expulsions of more people from the post-congress Zanu PF because it is now a pattern that all the suspended and purged members are accused of backing Amai Mujuru. All those linked to Mujuru will be expelled,” Mutasa said.
However, he said he was baffled by the fact that the “petrified” party had not recalled the members it had suspended from Parliament, with analysts and insiders also saying that the ruling party was scared of testing its popularity in more by-elections, particularly as some of the suspended officials had a solid social base in their constituencies.
“The party is already on fire as it is over the purges that we have witnessed, as well as the contentious claims that Amai Mujuru’s late husband, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, plotted to assassinate President Mugabe before the revered late liberation war icon’s charred remains were found after a mysterious inferno at his Beatrice farm in 2011.
“Mercifully, it was realised that recalling more MPs and calling for more by-elections would have been suicidal for the party. As it is, 2018 is going to be a nightmare,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
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 that was recently adopted by the party’s politburo.
Mutasa said for all the “bravado” of party Zanu PF hardliners, they were scared of “even her shadow”.
He also reiterated his belief yesterday that the death of Gen Mujuru was not normal, but part of “a grand scheme” by Zanu PF hardliners to weaken and eventually annihilate the liberation icon’s widow.
“Look at the death of her husband. Don’t you see something is not right? Why do people choose not to see what is very clear,” Mutasa said cryptically without elaborating.
Although an inquest discounted foul play in the death of the decorated war veteran — who is widely credited with catapulting Mugabe to the presidency of Zanu PF during the liberation struggle in the mid 1970s — his family remains unconvinced that his death was normal.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that for the whole decade she was Vice President, Mujuru was sidelined by Mugabe.
Insiders say the former VP had even not been accorded benefits by the nonagenarian such as new vehicles, a government house or a farm — as had been the case with the two current VPs.
An insider said it was clear that Mujuru and her late husband had been targeted by Mugabe and “his henchmen” from day one — who allegedly wanted to “freeze them out of politics” and ensure that the nonagenarian handpicked his successor.
Mujuru was apparently only given a new armoured Land Cruiser when a similar one was also being given to controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe — and thus had to rely on “either her own vehicles or on government pool cars” when she was Mugabe’s number two.
In contrast, Mujuru’s successors, VPs Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, had been treated with new fleets of vehicles.
“The Mujurus bought their Chisipite house with their own resources and it was not a government house as many would want to say today,” the source added.
It has also been reported that a “spoiled” Mphoko allegedly flatly refused to occupy a Mandara house that was left vacant following the death of former Vice President Joseph Msika in 2009, instead asking for his own bigger home.