They said it was such qualities that were lacking in the current crop of leaders aspiring to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Mujuru was able to interact with leaders from different political parties including the likes of Simba Makoni of Mavambo/Kusile, Dumiso Dabengwa of Zapu and officials from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, as well as Western diplomats, some of whom were much despised by his Zanu PF party.
The late general spoke his mind and whistle-blower website, WikiLeaks quoted leaked American cables as saying the former army commander confronted Mugabe two weeks before the March 2008 harmonised elections telling him to step down to avoid humiliation at the hands of Tsvangirai.
Over a week ago, thousands of people from across the political divide attended Mujuru’s memorial service which was organised with a difference in order to accommodate the different groups and individuals who thronged Ruzambu farm.
Even Tsvangirai, whose eldest son Edwin was getting married on the same day, attended the memorial service for about two hours before dashing back to Harare for the wedding.
Mugabe, cabinet ministers in the Government of National Unity (GNU), captains of industry and commerce, diplomats, the military, religious leaders and ordinary people from different political parties were also present at the event.
Various denominations participated in the memorial service, reflecting Mujuru’s tolerance of different religious persuasions. Father Fidelis Mukonori of the Roman Catholic Church blessed the house where Mujuru died, while Salvation Army’s Zimbabwe territorial commander, Commissioner Venice Chigariro and Bishop Johannes Ndanga of the Apostolic Christian Council played different roles during the memorial.
Performing groups, including the Masvingo-based Zion Christian Church (ZCC) Mbungo Stars and the Salvation Army territorial band travelled from different parts of the country to honour and celebrate the life of Mujuru.
Speakers, including Mu-gabe, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, State Security minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Air Force of Zimbabwe commander, Air Marshal Perence Shiri, all described Mujuru as a unifying figure from the days of the liberation struggle to the time he died.
VP Mujuru said Zimbabweans from different political affiliations and churches stood by the family during the time of bereavement proving that he was a unifier of people.
He was ‘a man of the people’
Political analyst Dr Ibbo Mandaza said Mujuru was a true national figure who was able to unite people from different social and political backgrounds.
“He was a man of the people,” he said. “Mujuru was not a typical leader. He was a humble person and would drive himself and travel to rural areas, Mbare and Highfields and other places where he would socialise with people of different backgrounds. This is why people respected him a lot.”
Another political analyst, Ernest Mudzengi agreed with Mandaza, that Mujuru was “a man of the people” who appealed to people across the political divide.
“It is difficult to find someone who appeals to so many people, especially in Zanu PF which is ridden with factionalism. This makes it difficult to find a person who can be a national leader with the ability to unite the people,” he said.
…but others thought he was divisive
Political commentator Blessing Vava does not believe Mujuru was a unifier. He said thousands of people attended both his burial and memorial service just to show sympathy because of the circumstances leading to his death.
“It’s a known fact that the general was the face of a faction in Zanu PF known as the Mujuru faction that is rival to the so-called Emmerson Mnangagwa faction, so on that score alone he was not a unifier.”
Vava said there were people in Zanu PF who were capable of leading both the party and even the country but because of fear, no one could really come out in the open to boldly declare his or her own ambitions as long as Mugabe was still there.
Although Mujuru was much revered as a unifier, he had his own weaknesses including allegations of using his political muscle to grab shares in some key companies.
VP Mujuru revealed during the memorial service that her husband was an excessive drinker, who sometimes did not sleep at home and that there were children who were claiming that they were fathered by him. The late general also hired CIO agents to stalk her for 10 years suspecting that she was cheating on him.
Mujuru died in a mysterious fire at his farm last year, but coroner Walter Chikwanha concluded that there was no foul play and that the cause of death was “carbonisation”.
The general’s family has however insisted that his death can only be brought to finality by exhuming his body and conducting a fresh autopsy.