Officials in Joice Mujuru’s office and senior Zanu-PF officials have denied reports that the Zimbabwean vice-president has resigned, following pressure from President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who has publicly demanded that she quits her post.
A number of Zimbabwean online news websites reported on Tuesday that Mujuru tendered her resignation to Mugabe on Monday. Rumours of Mujuru’s resignation was also awash on social media.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo however dismissed the reports, saying they were propaganda aimed at discrediting the vice-president. “There is nothing like that,” he said. “That is outright propaganda. She is at work.”
An official in Mujuru’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also denied the reports. “She is at work and actually she is the acting president. The president is in Zambia (for the burial of Zambian leader Michael Sata) and in his absence she is acting. So there is no truth to those reports,” he said.
Mujuru, who in recent months has appeared to be on course to retain the vice-presidency at the Zanu-PF congress next month, after managing to seize control of the party’s structures, including provinces, has come under pressure from Grace and a faction led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Grace and the Mnangagwa faction have joined hands to derail Mujuru’s presidential ambitions, leaving Mujuru and her allies rattled – although some officials have publicly stood by the vice-president.
The first lady, who was set to be named Zanu-PF secretary for the Women’s League after last month’s congress, embarked on a countrywide tour to engage the grassroots under the guise of thanking people for nominating her.
She used the rallies to savagely attack Mujuru and her allies, accusing Mujuru of being an incompetent leader who piggybacks on Mugabe while adding no value to the presidency. She has also accused Mujuru of abusing her office, subversion, extortion, underworld diamond dealings, corruption and a plot to topple Mugabe.
Addressing war veterans at her orphanage in Mazowe on October 23, Grace said Mujuru should resign on her own accord or risk being fired. She also revealed she was putting pressure on Mugabe to “baby dump” Mujuru.
Political games in succession race
As a part of a plot to stop Mujuru from assuming the vice-presidency – which will leave her in the driving seat to succeed Mugabe – Grace and the Mnangagwa faction have allegedly engineered the suspension of several provincial chairpersons linked to Mujuru.
The Mujuru faction had won control of nine of the 10 party provinces during provincial elections last year, leaving the faction well placed in the succession race, given that the provinces are crucial in electing top leaders.
Seven provincial chairpersons, namely Ray Kaukonde (Mashonaland East), Andrew Langa (Matabeleland South) and Callistus Ndlovu (Bulawayo) – all Mujuru’s backers – were booted out of their positions on Monday for allegedly de-campaigning the first lady and fanning factionalism.
Other chairpersons who have been kicked out are Temba Mliswa (Mashonaland West), Killian Gwanetsa (Masvingo), Amos Midzi (Harare) and Jason Machaya (Midlands).
The Mail & Guardian understands that there are also plans to remove Ambassador John Mvundura of Manicaland and Luke Mushore of Mashonaland Central.
The usually tame state media has also of late implicated Mujuru and her family businesses in corruption allegations. Mujuru’s company, International Travel Shops Africa, has demanded a retraction or $5-million in damages from the newspaper.
In today’s Herald, Mujuru is accused of importing cheap chickens from Brazil, which the paper said was against Zimbabwe’s land reform and policy on imports.