HARARE – Much-harassed former vice president Joice Mujuru says she is not afraid of the ruthless and unrelenting onslaught on her — that includes the murky allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate President Robert Mugabe, as well as the corruption, abuse of office and extortion charges that she faces and that are being “investigated” by police.
In a brief telephone interview with the Daily News yesterday, the widowed Mujuru sounded surprisingly confident and unfazed by the seemingly unending attacks on her by her erstwhile Zanu PF colleagues.
Lickspittle State media have this week alone been reporting that police were supposedly rounding up their “investigations” regarding sleazy dealings that she allegedly committed while she was still in high office.
Police also stormed the Harare head office of the country’s leading newspaper, the Daily News, last week after Mugabe’s wife, Grace, lied maliciously and egregiously that Mujuru owned a 10 percent stake in the paper late last year.
Police went to the extent of obtaining a court order from Harare provincial magistrate Vakayi Douglas Chikwekwe on December 18, 2014, which authorised them to search and seize key documents pertaining to the ownership of the newspaper’s parent company, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ).
Not only is this information easily obtainable from the Registrar of Companies and from statutory media regulation body, the Zimbabwe Media Commission, a casual perusal of the warrant of seizure that the police used suggested that they already had this information anyway, rendering their mission suspicious and somewhat pointless.
The quarrelsome and increasingly influential Grace first made the outrageous claim that Mujuru had bought the fictitious stake in the Daily News while addressing one of her controversial “Meet the People” rallies at her vast Mazowe business hub in late October — a pitiably false claim that she went on to repeat on a number of other occasions.
But the calm Mujuru told the newspaper yesterday that she was “enjoying the dawn of a new year” at home and preferred to enjoy her peace without intrusions from the media.
“I am still in the new year mood, muri kundinetserei (why are you bothering me),” she said.
Asked if she was not afraid of all the police “investigations” into her life, including the false allegations that she owned a stake in the Daily News, she said, “Hazvina basa izvo (That does not matter)”.
Although Mujuru appears to be taking her brutal ouster from power by the combined forces of Mugabe, Grace and supporters of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in her stride, this has not stopped her Zanu PF enemies from continuing to want to destroy her completely.
Political analysts say this betrays the fact that although Mujuru appeared to be down and out, her detractors realised that she remained a force to reckon with both within Zanu PF and outside the party — and thus needed to deal with her “once and for all” so that she could never bounce back in future.
Number two to Mugabe for 10 years and for many years tipped to become Zimbabwe’s first woman president and only the country’s second post-independence leader, Mujuru has previously said that although she was grateful that she had had her time in office, life needed to go on.
Mujuru was fired in December last year at the instigation of Grace who had threatened to deal with the former VP herself if her nonagenarian husband did not dismiss her.
Mugabe has openly admitted that Grace tells him what to do.
But instead of being hostile, Mujuru has surprised both friends and foes alike by being conciliatory to her party enemies, going to the extent of congratulating some of her persecutors when they were appointed into Cabinet, and quietly retreating to her farm.
Still, some hardliners in the ruling party are agitating for more drastic action to be taken against her and her allies, with some calling for her arrest over the murky assassination plot.
Analysts told the Daily News this week that Zanu PF’s continuing infighting, and growing speculation inside the party around the possibility of Mugabe relinquishing the reins of power before the end of his current term, betrayed the fact that many ruling party bigwigs were desperate for the nonagenarian to leave office.
At the same time, there was almost 100 percent agreement among the analysts who spoke to the newspaper that it would be “nothing short of a miracle” if Mugabe willingly handed over complete power to one of his lieutenants anytime soon.
These sentiments came amid the political storm ignited by fraud-accused businessman and prominent Zanu PF member Energy Mutodi, who sensationally claimed on social media at the weekend that Mnangagwa would succeed Mugabe by March this year.
Rather disappointingly, the musician-cum-politician did not say how his cryptic New Year wishes would come true.
Analyst Shepherd Mntungwa said there appeared to be a growing sentiment within the party that it was time for Mugabe to hand over the reins of power to one of his lieutenants.
“Events of the past few months, including the vicious succession wars, also suggest that this sentiment cuts across the major factional lines in the party, with the only issue being who should take over from president Mugabe — hence the brutal purging of Mujuru and her allies.
“But we must not confuse the fact that many Zanu PF bigwigs want Mugabe to go, even if they won’t climb Mount Everest to say so, with Mugabe actually going.
“My own reading is that president Mugabe has no immediate plans to go anytime soon. In addition, Grace’s starring role in the purges of last year suggest an inert fear within the family about any possible political changes within Zanu PF’s power matrices,” Mntungwa said.
Piers Pigou, southern African director of the International Crisis Group, said it was likely that speculation around Mugabe’s imminent departure and Mnangagwa taking over would escalate within Zanu PF, even as some senior party apparatchiks tried to argue, unconvincingly, that “succession was a non-issue”.
“But unless there has been a significant and rapid deterioration in his (Mugabe’s) health, it would make little sense for him to pull out … but the possibility of running out of steam is ever present given his age,” he said.
Mugabe took over from Malawi’s Peter Mutharika as Sadc chairman in August last year, after the regional bloc controversially endorsed the outcome of Zimbabwe’s disputed 2013 elections.
The African Union will be conferring a similar honour on Mugabe this year, with the analysts saying regional and continental leaders were in a way also suggesting that these honorary positions were some sort of “golden handshake or farewell incentive” for him to hand over power in Zimbabwe.
Political analyst Takura Zhangazha also said a Mnangagwa take-over was unlikely to occur anytime soon, except if this was orchestrated by Mugabe himself.
He added that it was “too soon for Mnangagwa to have consolidated his own power base,” outside Mugabe to force his way to the top.