Mujuru warned to brace for Zanu PF backlash


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ZIMBABWE – Picture this: a battered Joice Mujuru emerging from a police van surrounded by armed detectives as she makes her way into Harare Magistrate Courts where a threatening charge of terrorism, banditry or insurgency awaits her. 

Imagine her, lips chapped and hair unkempt, walking out from the dirty police van in leg irons and her hands handcuffed after spending two nights at the notorious Matapi Police Station.

Just allow a weird thought of Mujuru dressed in an oversized morning gown, which she was wearing when police detectives pounced on her; standing before a Harare magistrate facing life-threatening charges of plotting to overthrow a legitimately elected government.

Just a feral imagination of the former vice-president there in the dock jointly charged with former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda for the usual political crimes that are laid against anyone who opposes President Robert Mugabe.

While this might be just an eerie imagination, it is not far from the reality that might befall Mujuru, if she forms a political party to rival Mugabe.

Although she has been cautious in handling her political cards, analysts have warned that the ambitious project — People First — that she has embarked on will not be easy.

For quite a number of years, Mugabe has been a father figure to Mujuru. He knew her in Mozambique after she left her communal farming family in Mt Darwin to join the war against white colonial rule.

Mugabe appointed her to his first cabinet, making her his youngest minister in the early hopeful days of Zimbabwe and rose through the ranks to be the VP in 2004.

Mujuru knows it is dangerous to take Mugabe head-on given the brutal attack many before her have been subjected to.
If she does wage a political campaign against Zanu PF, she’ll likely be accused of all sorts of serious crimes.
These fears, according to her supporters, are the reason she has kept a low profile and allowed emissaries to speak even on matters that require her direct response.

“Mujuru should be prepared for the worst because these are some of the occupational hazards for a Zimbabwean politician. It won’t be a stroll in the park. The violent might of the State will descend heavily on her,”University of Zimbabwe political science professor, Eldred Masunungure said.

“Zanu PF knows what she can do and the influence that she has. They have tried to soil her image but it has failed to work. Now the next thing would be to turn violent against her and her family. She has to be brave, or swallow her pride, apologise and go back to Zanu PF.”

Her husband Solomon Mujuru — better known by his war-time name, Rex Nhongo — was the kingmaker in her rise. Many believed she would succeed Mugabe when he died or retired, as she had widespread support in most parts of the country.

But in August 2011, Solomon —by then one of the country’s most senior politicians — died in a mysterious fire at the farm he had lived on since grabbing it from a white farmer in 2003.

But after the entrance of the First Lady Grace Mugabe into mainstream politics, Mujuru was cast in bad light.
She was accused of corruption, gossiping, consulting witchdoctors and an assassin.

Her backers have linked the death of Solomon to the demise of his wife, as after she was fired from Zanu PF, the party accused her and the late husband of being the brains behind Mugabe’s electoral defeat in the 2008 harmonised elections.

According to Zanu PF, Mujuru and her husband — who was a feared ex-military head — urged party supporters to vote for Zanu PF MPs, while picking Morgan Tsvangirai for president.
This move, according to Mugabe’s supporters, explained why Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential election to Tsvangirai.

Her ouster as vice-president last year, according to analysts, was not only a result of vicious power struggles within the former liberation movement, but also punishment for the alleged betrayal.

With all this, will she withstand the inevitable harassment which has seen Tsvangirai in near-death experiences and his supporters tortured and killed?

Already, State-controlled banks are pursuing loans availed to most people who are linked to the People First project.
Zanu PF has not made it a secret that they are plotting dirty politics against Mujuru and in the past weeks, a State columnist, Nathaniel Manheru — widely believed to be Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba — even gave a hint on how the ruling party wanted to deal with her.

“There are many things which Zanu PF had put into abeyance, waiting for this moment. She has provided a trigger and it can only be fast forwarded. She is set to be fought on many fronts. Zanu PF is a vicious party, unyielding auditor,” Manheru wrote.

Although Mujuru was not available for comment, PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said they were ready to face the game and take Mugabe head-on.

“That’s nonsense, they can do anything; we are not afraid,” he said.

“Some of us are almost dead, worse things have happened to us. I for one, was almost killed and I just thank God to be alive. It shows you that this government has no clue how to lead its people. They are just concerned about power.”
Political analyst Ernest Mudzengi said Mujuru would just have to brave the fight.

“It will be tough. She will have to throw in all her war credentials and stand the heat from her fellow cadres, but I don’t see it being as brutal as it was for Tsvangirai and his team. They know she knows a lot and some of these people have a personal relationship with her,” Mudzengi said.

Party insiders said Mujuru must also brace for economic sabotage of her businesses as all companies linked to her that won various State tenders were likely to have the contracts cancelled.

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