Spooked by the recent barbaric attacks on her close allies, as well as the increasing violence targeted at opposition parties generally by suspected Zanu PF thugs, former vice president and now leader of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), Joice Mujuru, is once again beefing up her personal security.
Well-placed ZPF sources who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said so concerned were Mujuru and her senior party officials, that her personal security arrangements were being revised and augmented as campaigns for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections go into top gear.
“It’s true that we are beefing up her security because we know the beast we are dealing with. We have already drawn up a short list of individuals we want to serve as the president’s (Mujuru’s) close security unit.
“The first interviews for the new security recruits were held in Harare and were overseen by Mai Mujuru’s head of security, Retired Colonel Bastian Beta, who screened and vetted about 90 candidates all in all.
“More interviews will also be held in other provinces to ensure that security for the president is tight ahead of the (2018) elections given the violent nature of our political foes,” one of the sources said.
Contacted for an official comment, a cagey ZPF spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire, said it was not strategic for the party to discuss its security issues with the press.
“Issues involving security are sensitive and therefore confidential, and hence cannot be discussed with the press,” he said.
The concerns about Mujuru’s security come as there are growing fears of increased politically violence in the country, which observers, civic groups and opposition parties blame on Zanu PF.
Analysts have warned that President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF will increasingly use violence against their opponents as the 2018 national elections beckon.
Respected University of Zimbabwe politics professor, Eldred Masunungure, is among those who have warned in an interview with the Daily News that a seriously divided and desperate Zanu PF was likely to resort to using violence in the run-up to 2018.
“We fear that 2018 will witness the mother of all political violence, amid little doubt that Zanu PF will use violence. What we witnessed (in Norton last weekend) is an indication of what is in store for the country. If you go back to Zimbabwe’s independence history, this violent tendency has been the pattern.
“With regional eyes off Zimbabwe, and the country largely no longer on the radar, Zanu PF is likely, as we are witnessing now, to unleash violence in 2018 … it’s not something new as far as Zanu PF is concerned. It’s not an aberration,” Masunungure said.
Last month, four senior ZPF members, including former diplomat and retired brigadier Aggripa Mutambara, were left for dead in Guruve during a blood-curdling attack by seemingly deranged Zanu PF supporters.
It was later revealed that the marauding mobs wanted to chase away Obert Mutasa, Cyril Mureya and Temba Ncube from the farm — all of whom are prominent supporters of Mujuru’s fledgling party.
And as if to rub salt into the injured ZPF officials’ wounds, Mutambara — who had driven to the farm to try and rescue his comrades before he too was mercilessly set upon — was bizarrely arrested by police together with the other bludgeoned trio despite nursing bad wounds and having been on the receiving end of the savage attacks by the manic Zanu PF supporters.
And on Saturday, Zanu PF thugs ran amok in the usually sleepy town of Norton, beating up supporters of independent candidate in this weekend’s by-election, Temba Mliswa, in barbaric scenes which left many people injured and needing hospitalisation.
The chaotic scenes forced Mliswa to cancel his scheduled rally at Ngoni Stadium where thousands of his supporters had gathered ahead of the by-election in the constituency — including MDC, ZPF and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members.
Since Mujuru was sacked from Zanu PF, together with other disaffected senior party officials who included former Cabinet ministers Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo, Mugabe and his lieutenants have savaged her relentlessly.
In May, hordes of rowdy Zanu PF supporters stormed her Highlands residence and menacingly toyi-toyed on the property before they were ultimately dispersed by riot police.
Mujuru said then that she was “familiar with the choreographed evil tactics” of her former colleagues in the warring Zanu PF, and as such would “remain resolute” in her task of challenging Mugabe and the ruling party come the much-awaited 2018 national elections.
“They (Zanu PF apparatchiks) have been tasked to infiltrate ZimPF party structures but have failed and decided to resort to unconstitutional and thuggish methods, which is a clear violation of our rights,” she said.
She also recently suggested that her late husband and liberation struggle icon, Solomon, may have been killed by her former colleagues in Zanu PF.
Rex, as Zimbabwe’s first black army commander was also known, was seen as a kingmaker within the warring Zanu PF — and is credited with playing a major role in catapulting Mugabe to the leadership of the ruling party in the mid 1970s. He died in a mysterious fire at his Beatrice farmhouse, just outside Harare, in August 2011.
An inquest into his death proved inconclusive, with his family and political associates rejecting outright the official narrative that he had died from a fire that had been started by a candle.
This is not the first time that Mujuru has been forced to upgrade her security, amid fears that some of her political enemies in the warring Zanu PF “continue to plot day and night” against the People First leader.
The Daily News reported late last year that the former VP and her allies had come under increasing State surveillance, following the launch of her party.
Well-placed sources told the newspaper then that Mujuru had installed more security structures and cameras at her home, and also doubled the number of guards manning her Ruzambo Farm where her husband had died in a mysterious fire, after a number of intruders were caught at the farm.
Fears also continue to abound among Mujuru’s supporters that “a desperate and far from confident Zanu PF is desperately seeking to manufacture incriminating evidence” against the widowed former VP and her close allies.
Reacting to these fears, ZPF elder Rugare Gumbo, said then that the party had put in place mechanisms to protect themselves and to deal with infiltrators.
“We have people who have their own agenda in our midst. We believe there are a lot of former State security operatives. We will not denounce them as we are focusing on our activities.
“There are quite a number of people among us who were in the CIO and we can count on them. So, we are clear that we are not afraid. Our approach is to embrace everyone. We are not working against anybody. They can do as they want, but we have put measures to handle that,” Gumbo said. – Daily News