HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s continued hounding of former Vice President Joice Mujuru, the wife of the late revered liberation struggle icon, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, has been savaged by observers as senseless.
They also told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that knowing the president as well as they did, the late Rex Nhongo (Mujuru’s liberation struggle nom de guerre) would have been arrested then, were the accusations that he wanted to oust Mugabe from power as early as 2008 true.
Yet other observers believe that the current claims suggest that the demise of the general, as well as the ruthless purging of his wife Joice from the warring Zanu PF are all interlinked.
Human rights activist, Dewa Mavhinga, also said Mugabe should not be speaking ill of the late general because he had, by all accounts, in fact tried to democratise Zanu PF and initiate leadership renewal in the party — which were all positive moves.
“The main problem was simply that Mugabe never intended to hand over power to anyone, something that he recently confirmed. General Mujuru was right that Mugabe’s refusal to hand over power amounted to holding the country to ransom.
“The sacking of (Joice) Mujuru appears to have been motivated by Mugabe’s refusal to leave power, amid expectations within the party that he would let his deputy (Joice) take over after the 2013 elections.
“Zimbabwe’s biggest problem today remains that of lack of leadership renewal,” Mavhinga said.
Political commentator Earnest Mudzengi said while Mugabe clearly had “some beef” with the general, Joice’s situation had been worsened by her exhibition of ambition to succeed the increasingly-frail nonagenarian.
But were Mugabe’s comments not needlessly raising undue suspicions about Solomon’s death?
Commentator Rejoice Ngwenya would only say: “It’s actually desperation. Why has he (Mugabe) waited until now? It is a tacit admission that he perhaps knows something about Mujuru’s death”.
Analyst Settlement Chikwinya also believes that Rex had become fed up with Mugabe’s rule, particularly in light of the fact that the Zanu PF leader was increasingly moving away from the principles and values of the liberation struggle.
“I believe the general was instrumental in the formation of the (Simba) Makoni project. In fact, it is possible that the wife (Joice) equally supported that scheme, which could be the reason why the hand symbol used by Makoni is the same used by Zim People First.
“Mugabe never forgave the Mujurus for that and I believe he is very much aware of how and what happened to Solomon. Joice is suffering collateral damage for sins committed by her husband,” Chikwinya said.
Media practitioner Tabani Moyo said the real issue, which Mugabe was failing to understand, was that he had overstayed his welcome at the helm of the party and the country.
“Remember, it is not only the late Mujuru who wanted him out, almost every serious member of Zanu PF confided to the United States of America embassy that he had become a liability and a threat to the ruling party’s existence, which in our case is annexed to that of the country.
“What is needed here is for him to appreciate that none of the people present today are still confident of his leadership, and the sooner this sad reality dawns on him the better for himself, his family and the country at large.
“So the president should not disclose this reality as news or speculation, but a commonly shared virtue within and without the party. The expulsions, suspensions and victimisations are sideshows aimed at sprucing up the ugly succession question which needs an immediate address,” Moyo said.
Activist Farai Muguwu said from what he had gathered, (Solomon) Mujuru was the only person who could tell Mugabe his piece of mind without fearing recriminations.
“His role in the liberation struggle, including his role in the disbandment of Zipa and elevation of Mugabe to the helm of Zanu PF in 1976/7, though appreciated by Mugabe, meant that he was also a permanent threat to the commander in chief.
“The kingmaker role of Mujuru did not start in the post-independence era. It dates back to the imposition of Mugabe at the helm of Zanu in Mozambique.
“Thus Mugabe knew what Mujuru was capable of doing and him being a man who believes in absolute power and the general being someone who had the guts and perhaps being the only one in Zanu PF who could challenge Mugabe, the two were naturally incompatible once the former had captured State power.
“Thus Joice Mujuru is collateral damage. The real threat was Solomon. But maybe the question is whether (Solomon) Mujuru overshot the runway by trying to facilitate the demise of Mugabe towards 2008, knowing too well that Mugabe was always suspicious of him,” Maguwu said.