Joice Mujuru’s political career seems to be hanging by the thread in the wake of attacks by First Lady Grace Mugabe, but analysts say the game is not over yet in Zanu PF’s succession politics.
BY MOSES MATENGA
After 34 years in government, the last 10 as Vice President both in the party and government, the Zanu PF second in command is fighting for her political life after Grace called for her ouster on allegations of incompetence and extortion.
Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa lead factions that are vying to succeed President Robert Mugabe, who turns 91 in February next year.
Grace last week said she had openly campaigned for the rise of Mujuru in 2004 and wanted her to step down for undermining the authority of Mugabe.
“Why do you want to remove President Mugabe by force? This is a coup which they are planning. Mnangagwa, that man I respect him. People should respect Mnangagwa. In 2004, he was voted by eight provinces to be VP but he agreed to step down to allow Mujuru to take over when he had been voted for by all provinces. Likewise, Mujuru should just do the honourable and resign,” Grace told war veterans in Mazowe on Thursday.
“It is not good to be fired. It would be better if Mai Mujuru resigns today than wait to be fired by President Mugabe,” Grace said.
Could Grace’s remarks signify the beginning of an end to Mujuru’s career?
Social commentator Maxwell Saungweme sees the whole drama “as the potential end of Grace’s young political career” instead, adding that the game was not yet over for Mujuru.
“The whole thing can be seen as a plot by Zanu PF stalwarts to use Grace to do a dirty job and once it’s done they will dump her,” Saungweme said.
He said the fight will sink Zanu PF, adding that Mujuru was approaching it properly and not rushing to respond in informal platforms.
Political analyst, Blessing Vava said while it could be tricky, “what the First Lady is showing us is the other side of Mugabe that we didn’t know”.
“These are the thoughts her [Grace] husband believes in. Mugabe is only clever and there is something behind. It might be that Mugabe wants to test waters on how the structures will react if he takes out Mujuru,” he said.
“Ultimately it’s Mugabe at the end of the day who wins. All these people are beneficiaries of Mugabe’s benevolence and he has been using fear and patronage to be where he is today. It’s clear the centre is no longer holding in Zanu PF. Whatever comes out, it is Mugabe who wins.”
His views are shared by a senior Zanu PF official who said that Mujuru’s biggest let down was her alleged dealings with the United States, as exposed by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks where she allegedly had a clandestine meeting with former Ambassador Charles Ray at a secluded place outside Harare.
The meeting, according to the cables, was held in the dark after she had managed to duck her personal security and the Central Intelligence Organisation.
“That’s her biggest let down,” the source said.
“She is believed to be close to the whites and in Zanu PF you can’t afford to do that and survive. Congress is the end of her.”
Other Zanu PF stalwarts such as Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Information minister Jonathan Moyo also met US diplomats, according to WikiLeaks.
The source said the attack on 12 Zanu PF legislators for meeting an official from the US Embassy was part of a grand plan to isolate politicians with links to the West.
In 2004, Mugabe insinuated that Mujuru’s rise to VP was the beginning of greater things but 10 years later, Mugabe has been a spectator while Mujuru is being torn apart by his wife and loyalists.
After she was seconded to the post of VP, six of the party’s 10 provincial chairmen and others opposed to her elevation were suspended from the party in what became known as the “night of long knives”.
Mnangagwa had easily been picked up for nomination by eight provinces but the decision to forward a woman to the position overturned his “easy walk to the post.”
Mujuru had been tipped by many as an heir apparent given her rich liberation war credentials.
Her claim to fame, despite having been one of the first women commanders during the liberation struggle, was that she downed a plane. Mnangagwa’s loyalists however, dismissed the claim as propaganda.
Others said her curriculum vitae was strengthened by her marriage to a decorated war commander Solomon Mujuru who perished in an inferno at his Beatrice farm in August 2011.