Mugabe made several different public claims that his deputy Mujuru had gone to consult Nigerian witchdoctors where, in a state of semi-nudity, she invoked black spirits while slaughtering chickens in a bid to kill him.
And, before this bizarre allegation could sink into people’s bewildered imagination, the president had concocted another romantic theory. This time it was those fast-moving small black river beetles (nyungurugwi) that the vice-president had captured and had, with the aid of some nefarious witches or wizards, given names; one after him and the other after her (Mujuru).
The creatures were then allegedly set against each other in a fight to the death, Mugabe said. This was after Mujuru had been assured by the killer witchdoctors that the result of the fight would reflect what would happen at the Zanu PF 2014 congress that was beckoning. Unfortunately for the VP, Mugabe said, the Mujuru river beetle was slain by his — a bad omen indeed for the treasonous VP!
Mugabe also talked about other black ceremonies held at some farm in Mashonaland East where Mujuru and her cabal allegedly slaughtered sheep and performed rituals for the same purpose of clairvoyantly eliminating the Head of State.
Now, all of a sudden, Mugabe has dropped all these curious stories, opting for a more realistic claim where he talks of attempts by Mujuru to assassinate him using guns.
The president was in Gweru last week, telling his audience that Mujuru wanted to kill him in the same manner that his friend Laurent Desiree Kabila was slain on January 16 2001. He did not, however, as he usually does as he gives detailed history lessons, relate how Kabila was killed.
I find it therefore, necessary to let readers into at least one version of the events surrounding Kabila’s death as reported in a British publication, The Observer, so as to give a general view of what Mugabe is accusing Mujuru of.
The story reproduced below was published on February 11 2001:
Revealed: how Africa’s dictator died at the hands of his boy soldiers
The teenage killer of Laurent Kabila is still on the run a month after the Congolese president’s murder, according to a dramatic account of his assassination which has emerged in Paris.
The report also casts new light on why the “child soldiers” of the ex-president’s army turned against Kabila and plotted his assassination.
It suggests there was no international conspiracy, nor were Congolese rebels who control much of the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo responsible. Rather, Kabila’s kadogos (Swahili for child soldiers) committed parricide against a man they believed to have betrayed them.
Kabila had believed that the kadogos who had served him loyally since his rebellion in 1997 against ex-president Mobutu were utterly loyal. He even told a visiting foreign businessman: “They will never do anything against me. They have been with me since the beginning. They are my children.”
Kabila’s young killer entered the president’s office at the Marble Palace in Kinshasa on January 16, as the increasingly paranoid and isolated Kabila was discussing with an economics adviser a looming summit with France he hoped would be his political salvation.
The assassin bent over Kabila, and the president, assuming the teenager wanted to talk to him, leaned towards him. The kadogo then produced a revolver and shot the president four times, and then escaped with other conspirators while the palace resounded with gunfire.
At least three of those involved in the plot, including the unnamed killer himself, fled Kinshasa, crossed the river Congo and may have gone into hiding in Brazzaville, capital of the neighbouring Congo.
The investigation casts doubt on the official version of Kabila’s murder. According to Justice minister Mwenze Kongolo, Kabila was killed by another bodyguard called Rashidi Kasereka, 18, who was then shot dead.
But, according to yesterday’s report in Le Monde, Kasereka played a minor role in the assassination team. A sub-lieutenant who took part in the assassinations, identified by Le Monde only as “A.L.”, said that Kasereka was killed by Kabila’s bodyguards while the real killer escaped.
“A.L.” was in charge of 35 men who were posted outside the presidential palace. Two men got inside the building, four others hid in the palace to provide cover.
“Rashidi was one of four men giving covering fire to our partner. But Rashidi never got out. The rest of us, we ran about 300 metres to where we had left our six vehicles. Then we split up and disappeared into the city.”
The plot to kill Kabila started in early January when a dissident group of kadogos went to Brazzaville and drew up a document setting out Operation Mbongo Zero. Mbongo is a Swahili word for buffalo, a reference to the ex-president’s corpulence.
A copy of the assassination plan has been kept by one of the plotters, identified by Le Monde only as “Abdoul”.
Consisting of three unsigned hand-written pages, it explains how the conspirators would infiltrate strategic positions in Kinshasa, including the presidential palace, the national radio and television station and the headquarters of the country’s electricity company. It involved some 75 members of Kabila’s bodyguard at the presidential palace, many of whom were arrested after the killing.
The roots of the boy soldiers’ dissension go deeper. Kabila founded his Alliance of Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire in 1996, backed chiefly by Rwandan and Ugandan forces (with whom he later fell out), but with support from the kadogos, from the east of the country.
Kabila consolidated his power base by organising the assassination of one of the co-founders of the Alliance, Andre Kisase Ngandu, who had been chief of the National Council of Resistance for Democracy, a group opposed to Mobutu to whom many of the kadogos belonged.
One of those kadogos was ‘“Abdoul”, who supported Kabila during the 1997 coup d’etat, but never pardoned him for killing his former leader: “I marched with Kabila, but I knew he was a traitor.”
Resentment against Kabila grew. Last June, in a desperate roll of the dice, Kabila agreed to meet the Rwandan president General Paul Kagame, to devise a plan to protect his teetering regime. Kagame was a long-time enemy of the kadogos and thus the meeting alienated them further.
At the same time, Kabila was sowing internal dissension. According to “Abdoul”, he treated his “children” with contempt: “We knew no one in Kinshasa. All the time we were with Kabila. But he treated us badly. We didn’t have salaries, all the money came from him. We were like beggars.”
Increasingly paranoid, Kabila started to devour the children of the revolution. Last November, he believed he had discovered a plot against him and arrested, tortured and killed soldiers loyal to Commandant Anselme Masasu Nindaga who had days earlier made a subversive speech at a reunion for 1 200 kadogos in Kinshasa.
The day before his assassination, Kabila had witnessed the execution of 47 kadogos, all believed to be plotting against him. His terror had turned on those who had been his closest allies, the boy soldiers who had marched with him from eastern Congo four years earlier.