Former Zimbabwean vice-president, Joice Mujuru, suffered a life-changing blow at the weekend when the state broadcaster stopped calling her comrade. She is now plain Mrs Mujuru.

The unseen hand of Zanu-PF awards the “comrade” honorific to those who joined the struggle to end white rule in the 1970s and who remain loyal to the party in general and President Robert Mugabe, 90, in particular.

Mujuru, 58, who took up arms as a teenager against Rhodesia, was sacked from her post last month. She had been accused, among other sins, of plotting a coup d’etat against Mugabe.

Since then the demolition of her reputation continues and she has now been accused in some state media of having forced girls to have sex with male comrades during the liberation war.

One of her loyalists, Didymus Mutasa, 79, formerly in Mugabe’s inner circle and a previous security minister, has been accused of raping girls.

He is now no longer a comrade, according to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

Higher education minister Oppah Muchinguri says police dockets opened against Mutasa regularly disappeared.

“He was so powerful and investigating officers would be transferred from local police stations if they attempted to look into reports made against him.”

As security minister, Mutasa presided over the detention of some top human rights operators in Zimbabwe.

Muchinguri accused Mujuru of violence against fellow female combatants who refused to have sex with their male colleagues in military camps in neighbouring Mozambique during the 1970s.

“She physically assaulted me… I was whipped for refusing to have sex.

“Imagine. Joice was there. We want you to understand how other young female soldiers suffered as Joice engineered all these abuses,” Muchinguri told the state media at a rally late last week.

She claimed Mujuru never did shoot down a Rhodesian helicopter during the war and that the story about it was manufactured by Zanu-PF leaders to boost her image.

Rugare Gumbo, 74, formerly long-serving Zanu-PF spokesman and a Mujuru loyalist, was expelled from the party last month. He told Independent Newspapers that it “made no difference” that Mujuru was no longer known as a comrade.

“This just goes on and on. Who cares? Not us.”

First lady Grace Mugabe, 49, engineered Mujuru’s downfall late last year after accusing the then vice-president of plotting treason against her husband. Grace is now in the Zanu-PF politburo and is expected to be appointed to her husband’s cabinet later this year.

Daily News Foreign Service