HARARE - Former Vice President Joice Mujuru — who formally presented herself to the nation on Tuesday as the leader of the new political outfit, Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) — has described President Robert Mugabe as a backward and power-hungry man who wants to take the nation down with him to his grave.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily News yesterday, the former and long-standing deputy to Mugabe also said the increasingly-frail nonagenarian was fatally “indecisive” and in the bad habit of reneging on, and scuttling even those things that he would have initially agreed to.
“To be honest with you, I felt very betrayed (when I left Zanu PF), because you would have sacrificed your life, your family and even yourself to the whole cause and then all of a sudden things turn the opposite way.
“If I had done something wrong, one would feel it was my problem and it was going to catch up with me,” Mujuru said, as the deep respect that she once had for Mugabe appears to be waning fast — while she prepares to take him head-on in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
Mujuru was hounded out of the ruling party in late 2014 on a cocktail of untested charges that included her and her allies being accused of plotting to oust and kill Mugabe, fanning factionalism, engaging in corruption and dabbling in witchcraft.
Commenting on these charges, she said yesterday that it was now “clear for all to see” that she was innocent as Zanu PF’s deadly ructions had worsened after she left the party.
“When you have done virtually nothing you feel betrayed. I knew one day the truth was going to come out and I am sure it is now clear to all and that everyone is seeing what is happening.
“Rome is burning and is Mai Mujuru still there? If Mai Mujuru wanted to assassinate Mugabe why is she walking scot-free?” she asked rhetorically.
Mujuru, who has previously referred to Mugabe as her father, having known him since she was 18, tore into the man — daring him and her other Zanu PF tormentors to avail the incriminating evidence that they claimed they had against her.
“You can actually see that these were just fabrications, that they just wanted to get rid of me... I was a hindrance to those who wanted to get closer to Mugabe. The unfortunate thing is that he bought those lies. I felt betrayed,” she said.
Mujuru said as the “madness” got worse, she went and told Mugabe that she was quitting, “waved goodbye and left him in silence” just before Zanu PF’s disputed 2014 congress.
She said for a long time while she was still within the ranks of the ruling party, she had been of the view that Zanu PF could be “renewed from within”, but this had proven to be impossible.
“The country is now the laughing stock of the world right now and yet we used to be number one left, right and centre. Where are we now? Which number one position can you claim now?
“Number one of gossip, number one of occupying a podium and shouting at people who are busy developing their nations? That is our only number one position,” she said tongue-in-cheek and in obvious reference to Mugabe who is notorious for his biting anti-West rhetoric.
“He abused the respect that was shown to him. Our people have been impoverished so much that to leave Parliament you would have to first think what you will do, and how you will earn a living.
“He has the reins to make you turn left or right and use you, and do whatever he wants,” Mujuru said.
And as Zimbabwe’s economy continues to plummet precipitously, she said the question that many were asking her was “why did you go to war?”, given the widespread suffering in the country.
This was one of the major reasons which had driven her and other “reformists” who were still in Zanu PF, to contemplate leading a fresh revolution for the betterment of all Zimbabweans.
Asked if she was going to join the opposition trenches if she had not crossed swords with Mugabe and her erstwhile Zanu PF comrades, the widowed ex-VP said although she had tried her best while still in the ruling party, her “voice was drowned”.
“It is I who told President Robert Mugabe that I am leaving because of what was happening in the party. But because of wanting to save face, he said something else,” she said amid much mirth.
“Of course, he would never come out in the open and admit that he was lying,” she added.
Describing Zimbabwe as a “concoction of trouble and confusion”, Mujuru said most of the country’s problems could be traced to Mugabe, adding that this could be seen even in his “ridiculous” belief that she had dabbled in witchcraft.
“Those who talk of witches are the biggest ones. I don’t know what they were talking about, I was born an apostolic faith follower... people must have laughed to such a lie and say how can a head of State believe such a lie.
“You occupy such a high post and believe in such things? How backward!” Mujuru exclaimed, saying further that all these lies were aimed at keeping Mugabe in power.
“He loves power. There are people like that,” she said ruefully.
Asked if Mugabe, who once urged her to dream bigger and aim to succeed him when she was appointed VP in 2004, had a succession plan she said, “maybe in his pocket”.
“In my 10 years as his deputy, he never discussed anything with me... I was never promised anything... and I don’t think he ever promised anyone”.
Asked about her relationship with the First Family, particularly First Lady Grace Mugabe, who was her tormentor-in-chief ahead of Zanu PF’s damp squib 2014 congress, Mujuru said it had been “cordial” for many years.