AXED vice president Joice Mujuru could have retained her position if she had swallowed her pride and apologised to President Robert Mugabe, former Zanu PF Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri said Friday.
Having forgiven racist Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith, said Muchinguri, reconciling with a fellow black and protégé was not a problem for Mugabe if Mujuru had been willing to apologise as did several others in her allegedly treacherous group.
“The President has indicated that he is ready to reconcile and forgive,” said Muchinguri.
“You can imagine that he (Mugabe) forgave Ian Smith; he could as well forgive a black person.
“Some people who were used for the purposes of factionalism have apologised and are now forgiven.
“Things could have worked much more differently for Mujuru if she had swallowed her pride and apologised for her misdeeds, but she did not.”
Mujuru was booted out as Zanu PF and state vice president by Mugabe, following months of relentless attacks by government-owned newspapers and the president’s wife, Grace.
The First Lady accused Mujuru of gross incompetence, grand corruption and plotting to illegally depose her husband, a toppling that would have represented a humiliating end to the 90-year-old’s three-decade stranglehold on power.
Grace initially asked Mujuru to apologise to her husband. Mujuru ignored her, dismissing her allegations, Grace revealed last week, as stuff and nonsense coming from a lunatic with a whistle.
After that, the clearly nettled First Lady demanded that the vice president resigns. She was again ignored at which Mujuru was promised a “baby-dumping” at the ruling party’s congress last week.
Aware her fate was sealed, Mujuru stayed well clear of the congress. Mugabe told delegates he had expected the then VP to attend and called her a thief for choosing to absent herself.
Muchinguri, who has since been appointed Zanu PF secretary for transport and welfare as well as Minister of Higher Education, said Mujuru also “angered women” by defending corruption.
Early this year, the former vice president pulled a shocker when she criticised revelations of corruption in state enterprises where executives drew salaries of more than $500,000 per month while their organisations failed to pay ordinary workers and teetered on the brink of collapse.
Mujuru said the revelations were the work on enemies trying to destroy Zanu PF and the government it leads from within.
Those comments, Muchinguri said, showed that Mujuru had lost touch with the struggles of the ordinary people.
“It was disheartening to see someone defend such things like the parastatal executives who were earning more than $600,000 a month. It showed we had lost touch with people, lost our human face and humanity,” she said.
Worse still, Mujuru had also become a drag in the struggle for women’s emancipation.
“Instead of pushing for the emancipation of women she took every opportunity to fight me, bring me down and shoot down every other program I tried to introduce,” said Muchinguri.
“In the ten years she was vice president, she did not help even one woman. She planted her people in my former ministry (Women’s Affairs) to frustrate me.”
Zanu PF amended its constitution to remove a clause requiring that one of its two vice presidents should be a woman, a development that allowed Mugabe to appoint Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as his deputies after Mujuru’s ouster.
Muchinguri defended the amendment, denying it represented a setback in the empowerment of women.
“Yes, that was removed because, to us, it did not make any sense,” she said.
“Now we actually have affirmative action because it is 50/50 at all levels. It does not need to be in the presidium only because it will not make any difference to have a figurehead who will not deliver like we had with Mujuru.”