POLICE and central intelligence officers last week reportedly moved to finalise their investigations of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru as the political pressure to arrest her as early as this week mounts, The Standard has learnt.
BY Staff Reporters
Pressure is overbearing within Zanu PF to build a case against Mujuru and have her arrested to kill all chances of her political rebound within the party’s raging succession politics, impeccable sources within the party have said.
Police investigators last week reportedly intensified the probe to complete the investigation on companies with alleged links to the liberation war fighter.
Efforts to obtain police comment failed as police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba’s phone was unreachable yesterday.
Following First Lady Grace Mugabe’s public accusations of criminal activity against Mujuru, President Robert Mugabe ordered that investigations be carried out in order to obtain evidence.
Sources said police were under political pressure to present to Mugabe upon his return from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the evidence they had put together before the politicians sought to push Mugabe, through his wife Grace, to sanction the arrest.
The First Lady is expected back in the country this week, according to Mugabe who said she had remained in the Far East nursing an appendicitis operation.
Last week’s swoop came after several weeks of probing the vast Mujuru empire, most of which investigations yielded “not so useful evidence or nothing”, according to sources close to the investigations.
The latest probe reportedly also shifted attention to principal directors of the various ministries Mujuru once led before her rise to the post of Vice-President in 2004.
Although The Standard could not establish the names of the principal directors who are being targeted, the paper is reliably informed that a blitz on former ministry bureaucrats had been launched.
“The police and central intelligence officers are now targeting principal directors in ministries that Mujuru once led as the State desperately tries to build a case against her,” an impeccable source told The Standard.
Mujuru has held several government portfolios since the country attained independence in 1980.
She was Minister of Youth, Sport and Recreation from 1980 to 1985, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office between 1985 and 1988, Minister of Community Development, Co-operatives and Women’s Affairs between 1988 and 1992, Mashonaland governor from 1992 to 1996 and Information, Posts and Telecommunications minister between 1996 and 1997.
Prior to her appointment as VP in 2004, she was Minister of Rural Resources and Water Development, a portfolio she assumed in 1997.
“The whole probe is now political. There is anxiety within staunch Grace Mugabe supporters to have Mujuru arrested to avoid embarrassing the First Lady. Mujuru’s arrest would also mean if she is convicted, she is automatically eliminated from the Zanu PF succession race,” the source added.
“She would also be eliminated from any race for the presidency within or without the party on account of her criminal record.”
Political analysts contend that Mujuru still stands a chance to bounce back into Zanu PF succession politics even on the strength of her being a mere card-carrying party member.
This is the possibility that those that are after her neck want to eliminate.
Presently, the Constitution dictates that in the event that Mugabe is incapacitated, the person who will have last acted as President will take over for 90 days.
The ruling party would then hold an extra-ordinary congress to appoint Mugabe’s successor.
Mujuru — who is still a party member — can easily be nominated from the floor and, with a great following behind her, stands a chance to stun any of Mugabe’s choices.
Mujuru’s enemies, the source said, wanted her stripped of her party membership so that she would become ineligible to succeed Mugabe.
But this course proved impermeable, hence the decision to pursue the criminal route.
“They are weighing many options. But firing Mujuru, who is now a mere card-holding member, from the party would prove difficult as building a political case against her would not be possible because Mujuru has remained deafeningly quiet in the face of provocative accusations. The legal route is now being weighed and pressure for the police to build a case against her is increasing,” another source close to the developments said.
Early this month, the State media linked break-ins at government ministers’ offices to the Mujuru probe, claiming that chances were high some government officials could be killed before arrests were made.
A declared Mujuru ally, former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, told The Standard in an interview yesterday that assertions by one of Mujuru’s willing hangmen, Information minister Jonathan Moyo, that Mujuru had been dealt a permanent blow were wishful thinking.
“Who is Jonathan Moyo? Is he God? Mai Mujuru will recover [from the political dumpsite]. She has support and an impeccable record. She remained with the struggle while others were running away,” Gumbo said.
Addressing delegates at a Sapes Trust meeting a fortnight ago, Moyo confirmed that he was working with Kasukuwere [Saviour the party’s secretary for the Commisseriat] to effectively kill Mujuru’s prospects of ever resurrecting.
Asked whether he was not afraid that police would swoop on him as well — on corruption and other allegations — Gumbo said law enforcement agencies were welcome (to investigate him) “as I strive to live an honest life”.
He said the on-going investigations should also focus on government ministers in order to gain credibility.
“Why focus on Mai Mujuru alone? Most of these guys [ministers] were [in the past] called to answer questions by the Anti-Corruption Commission,” he said, implying they were perfect candidates for investigation.
In the run up to last year’s Zanu PF congress, the First Lady held nationwide rallies where she demonised Mujuru, accusing her of being corrupt, incompetent, power hungry, a potential assassin and gossiper.
She advised her to voluntarily resign from her post or face the boot.
The First Lady lived up to her threat as Mujuru was kicked out of both top party and government positions within days of the threats.
She was dropped from the Zanu PF politburo and lost her post as VP to Emmerson Mnangagwa following a reshuffle that claimed the scalps of 15 other ministers.
Despite Mujuru’s sacking and the firing of nine provincial chairpersons for allegedly working with the former VP, her ghost continues to haunt Zanu PF.