Joice Mujuru has spoken on how ousted former president Robert Mugabe exploited liberation war colleagues’ illiteracy to both his own advantage and eventually Zimbabwe’s doom.
She said illiteracy and inability to speak in English and lack of exposure on how to run state affairs were major setbacks for many government officials at independence something that gave Mugabe an upper hand.
“From that, we later lacked the courage to tell Mugabe that what he was doing was out of sync with how to run a government,” she said.
“As for me, I had to spend three weeks before occupying my office as a new minister of sports because I wasn’t sure about what I was expected to do.”
She added with a giggle, “Worse, my subordinates were white Rhodesian civil servants and yet I was unable to construct even one English sentence to delegate.”
“My first job in government was as minister of youth, sports and recreation but I reluctantly took it; my first option was to go into the army, reason being that I was uneducated,” said Mujuru.
“What made my job even more difficult was that the Rhodesians in the new government were against our stance as the ruling party Zanu PF that we would not engage in any sporting activities with South Africa because our regime was against apartheid,” she said
Mujuru further said Mugabe, whom she looked upon, called her into his office one day and said; “Teurai go to night school and study”.
“And former ministers Joseph Culverwell (late veteran teacher) and Dzingai Mtumbuka (first education minister) brought boxes full of educational books.”
In a wide ranging interview in Harare, Mujuru said during that time, every day after government business, most officials would meet at the Zimbabwe House in Harare where Mugabe would become their night school teacher.
“You see, it became very difficult for us when now we were in cabinet, we all assumed Mugabe was right since he was our teacher,” she said.
Mujuru added, “Imagine telling you tutor during the day that you are wrong in cabinet and then later the same person is your teacher during the night.”
“This is where I think it got into Mugabe’s head right up to the end; he could no longer even listen or take advice from his former students.”
“To many of us then he was a father figure because of his age; he was traveling quite a lot and had gone to school so he was always ahead of us.”
“He failed to appreciate how others have grown in education and wisdom.”
“But it was out of this respect and lack of courage to confront him when things were going wrong that led to where the country is today,” she added.
Mujuru has since upgraded herself and recently earned a PhD from the University of Zimbabwe. She is currently the leader of the National People’s Party (NPP)