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Mujuru London visit and a panicky Zanu PF

The recent visit by Joice Mujuru to London shook the foundations of Zanu PF hegemony, triggering some panic in the disintegrating party.

guest opinion BY JEALOUSY MAWARIRE

Joice Mujuru

Joice Mujuru

The amount of fake news and contrived statements attributed to Mujuru by Zanu PF media zealots gives testimony to the fact that she touched some raw nerve and is on course to dismantling the hitherto perceived notion that Zanu PF is invincible. It lays bare the excesses of a regime built and perfected around Robert Mugabe.

Some Herald columnist has even gone to the extent of alleging that the interviews that Mujuru had with Tim Sebastian of Deutsche Welle and Stephen John Sackur of BBC Hard Talk were stage-managed to expose the human rights excesses of the Mugabe regime while absolving Mujuru of culpability in human rights abuses that occurred in Zimbabwe in the early 1980s and in 2008 when Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of the presidential election.

We gather state media journalists, especially those at the Herald, have been instructed to generate at least two negative stories on Mujuru everyday for 13 days from the day the Hard Talk interview was aired.

However, Zanu PF is not limiting its anti-Mujuru propaganda to its official news outlets, but has invaded the social media — a new, unregulated public sphere where rules, professionalism, accuracy and integrity matter very little, if at all. For a regime known for being corrupt, playing against rules, even in elections, the social media becomes attractive for propaganda purposes and outright disinformation.

Of particular note was an “Open letter to Joice Mujuru”, written and circulated on social media by one Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena who claims to be a socialist, may be a fascist, schooled in Marxism-Leninism, long-discredited philosophies that created some of the worst dictators and psychopaths this world has come to know and endure.

I will not delve into detail on its contents since it’s premised on a statement falsely attributed to Mujuru, which is not only fake news but a clearly contrived and inaccurate foolish reading of events surrounding the 2008 presidential election defeat of Zanu PF.

Mabhena claims Mujuru “confessed” to rigging Morgan Tsvangirai in one of her public addresses in the UK. Nothing can be further from the truth. I accompanied Mujuru on all her engagements in London and made sure everything that she said was captured on video both for public dissemination and for our own records. There is nowhere she said she took part in rigging Tsvangirai, not because of anything, but because she was never part of the Zanu PF mafia responsible for rigging elections.

Anyone who has a sound mind and a bit of memory would know that Tsvangirai won the 2008 polls partly because of the role that Zanu-PF members aligned to Mujuru played to ensure their supporters voted for Zanu PF MPs and ward councillors but voted Tsvangirai for president. If that is not true, then what is bhora musango?

If one of the sins that Mugabe accuses Mujuru and the late General Solomon Mujuru of is engineering his defeat in 2008 through bhora musango, and Mugabe came out publicly on this while addressing a group of Zaoga church members in Mazowe last year, does it make sense to allege Mujuru was involved in rigging Tsvangirai who had benefitted from the strategy?

You can easily see that the statement attributed to Mujuru that she rigged Tsvangirai is meant to hold her responsible for the subsequent violence that the country witnessed in the run-up to the presidential run-off election on June 27 2008 and Mabhena does not make it a secret.

It was carefully crafted to ensure that while Mujuru can distance herself from Gukurahundi, which was orchestrated by Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Sydney Sekeramayi who headed key security ministries then; her admission to having rigged Tsvangirai would make it very difficult for her to distance herself from the subsequent violence that followed that electoral theft.

That is a poor attempt at dragging Mujuru into the well-documented human rights crimes that Mugabe’s regime committed. What is, however, interesting about many who have attempted to make a strong argument that Mujuru took part in the planning of some genocidal attacks on Zimbabweans by Mugabe, is the often disingenuous assumption that Mugabe is not a dictator and, therefore, consults with his cabinet and vice-presidents on every decision he makes.

Suddenly, Zimbabweans are oblivious to the fact that Mugabe unilaterally decided to send soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo, withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and makes unilateral decisions even to pay civil servants bonuses when his Finance minister is against the idea. Surely, such type of a leader is a dictator and dictators should be held accountable for their decisions and any attempts at spreading culpability by seeking to drag deputies is clear political cowardice.

It is oxymoronic to admit Mugabe is a dictator then attempt to blame his deputies for what he does. Every Zimbabwean knows cabinet does not sit in Mugabe’s absence. Zanu PF officials know that the politburo and central committee do not sit if Mugabe is away. If that is his type of administration, surely the buck stops with him. He has to be accountable for every missing person, for every mysterious death, including that of General Mujuru.

Mugabe is accountable for every one of the estimated 20 000 lives lost in Matabelelalnd and Midlands provinces and not even his professed “madness” should be an excuse.

Mujuru, on the other hand, is on record, several times, chiding Zanu PF youths for unleashing violence on political opponents. At a rally in Hwange, where she was thanking the people of Matabeleland North for supporting her nomination for the post of vice-president of Zanu PF in 2004, Mujuru spoke about her non-violent character which she said was not going to embarrass those that had chosen her to lead them.

She said, “I can assure you that my character will not tarnish your image. I will not embarrass you.” She then appealed to the youths to desist from political violence ahead of general elections which were slated for March 31 2005. She said, “Youths should desist from being used in political violence. This year, we want a peaceful election; this is the message to each and every youth.” (The Chronicle January 31 2005).

The Chronicle of January 30 2005, in an article by Reason Mpofu in Hwange, also reported that Mujuru “urged members of the ruling party to be custodians of non-violent elections, considering the vast experience they have amassed in the past 25 years”. In her address to the business community in a story headlined Business Talks to Zanu PF, Dr Mujuru is quoted by the NewsDay of December 9 2010 as having said: “If you are out there and you kill in the name of Zanu PF, the law will catch up with you because an offence (once) committed should be brought to justice. Zanu PF won’t protect you. We don’t want to be a country known for murder and harassment.”

There are many accusations that have been made against Mujuru but the underlying factor is that either those that make the allegations do not know her, or they are just malicious ZanuPF functionaries who have made it their vocation to try to soil her otherwise impeccable reputation.

To understand Mujuru, it is imperative to enter into her political world and schemata and appreciate her understanding while in Zanu PF, that the dictatorial system of governance in the country was hinged on one man, therefore, to dislodge the system easily, one had to work out a plan to remove Mugabe through existent party structures at congress.

She attempted it and it nearly worked. She knew then that to effectively do this, she needed to work out of the party structures, entrench herself and build her own support base within the party then effect leadership renewal.

The process was long and arduous and did not only need her to work on the party structures, but to work on herself as well. She needed to upgrade herself academically and the choice of her academic discipline (strategic management) bears testimony to a woman who knew exactly what she wanted. Mujuru, however, did not just devote her time to pursue academia and leadership renewal, but also embarked on several projects that changed people’s lives, including several irrigation projects during her tenure as minister of Rural Resources and Water Development which made her popular among rural communities.

That is the Joice Mujuru I know, the Mujuru who will be the first female president of Zimbabwe.

Jealousy Mawarire is spokesperson for National People’s Party

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