HARARE – More information is coming out suggesting that former Vice President Joice Mujuru had become exceedingly popular and powerful within President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF in the months leading to her brutal ouster from power late last year.
Documents in the possession of the Daily News show that many current Cabinet ministers, service chiefs, senior government officials, legislators and war veterans around the country were fully behind liberation war icon General Solomon Mujuru’s widow when the wind was dramatically taken out of her sails ahead of Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress last December.
“The information you have is spot on. Many of the people that President Mugabe rewarded in the aftermath of that disputed congress, and who now claim to have been against her were at the forefront of supporting Mai Mujuru’s candidature as our future leader,” a serving central committee member said yesterday.
This emerging narrative comes as information filters out that Mugabe no longer believes that Mujuru and her close allies ever plotted to oust and assassinate the nonagenarian, as was falsely alleged by her Zanu PF enemies, who concocted the lies and manipulated the First Family for their narrow interests.
Minutes of a Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial coordinating committee (PCC) meeting that was held on March 9, 2014, at Chinhoyi University, suggest — for example — that Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora, Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira, Mashonaland West provincial minister Faber Chidarikire and Higher Education deputy minister Godfrey Gandawa were part of the group of attendees who resolved then that Mujuru should be retained as party vice president.
And very revealingly too about how nobody else was in the reckoning at the time to succeed Mugabe, the same province did not reach a similar consensus on the candidate for the other vice president’s post, as well as that of national chairperson, which was later dispensed with under controversial circumstances.
“The PCC nominated and endorsed the candidature of the party’s First Secretary Cde RG Mugabe and the Second Secretary Cde Joice Mujuru for president and vice president respectively for the 2014 National People’s Congress,” the minutes read.
Sources who attended the said meeting told the Daily News yesterday that the proposal to maintain the status quo in the party’s presidium was made by former provincial chairperson Temba Mliswa and seconded by youth member Chinjai Kambuzuma — and was overwhelmingly supported by all attendees.
Surprisingly, Kambuzuma went on to become one of the leading youths and members who demonised Mujuru to no end after smelling the subsequent dramatic winds of change and power shifts. And he is not alone in this “betrayal”, as one PCC member put it yesterday.
Many of the province’s bigwigs, who were rooting for Mujuru to succeed Mugabe, also jumped ship at the 11th hour — and were eventually duly rewarded for this by the embattled and frail nonagenarian.
Chombo, who was Local Government minister, is now party secretary for administration and was also recently appointed Home Affairs minister. Mupfumira surprised many when she was plucked from relative obscurity to become Public Service minister, and also now she doubles up as temporary Information minister.
Other notable figures who attended that Mashonaland West PCC meeting that endorsed Mujuru’s candidature include Senate President Edna Madzongwe, deputy Home Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka.
“Politics is a funny and sometimes silly game. It defies logic, except only in politics that the majority of people who supported Mai Mujuru and survived the party’s brutal purges are eating at the high table with president Mugabe, while she is in the political wilderness.
“The only person among the party’s provincial bigwigs in Mashonaland West who objected to her endorsement that day was Christopher Mutsvangwa, who wanted Mugabe consulted first before the resolution was passed. But all this is conveniently forgotten by everybody,” a provincial official said yesterday.
He described as “interesting” the claims that Mugabe no longer believed that Mujuru and other casualties of the brutal purges that occurred ahead of and after Zanu PF’s sham congress last year had plotted to oust and assassinate him.
This claim is being made amid rising talk over the past few weeks that some post-congress Zanu PF bigwigs were actively working to lure her back to the warring party.
These sentiments follow reports that Mujuru was prevaricating on leading a rival Zanu PF formation — the “original” Zanu PF that uses the slogan People First.
But former Masvingo provincial minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti has shot down these claims, emphatically telling the Daily News on Monday that Rex Nhongo’s popular widow would not be re-joining the ruling party.
“Gamatox will never be Zanu PF again. The post-congress Zanu PF transformed itself into a private company which is now owned and privatised by a single family. We cannot be part of someone’s company as we are in the stages of forming a people party and we will launch it to the people soon,” Bhasikiti said. – Daily News