Zanu PF struggles to exorcise Mujuru ghost

Zanu PF struggles to exorcise Mujuru ghost

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ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe’s renewed claims that former Vice-President Joice Mujuru plotted to kill him are an indication the ruling Zanu PF party is struggling to exorcise the influential politician’s ghost, analysts say. 

Mugabe last month claimed Mujuru wanted him assassinated the same way the late Democratic Republic of Congo leader Laurent Kabila was shot by his bodyguards.

The 91-year-old leader’s claims made in Gweru were completely different from the tales he told at the Zanu PF congress last December where he alleged Mujuru engaged Nigerian witchdoctors to bewitch him.

First Lady Grace Mugabe also used most of her recent rallies across the country to warn that the Mujuru faction had not been entirely beaten, claiming the former VP was mobilising for the 2018 elections under the People First banner.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political analyst Eldred Masunungure said Zanu PF was desperately trying to eliminate the Mujuru factor in the political landscape.

“She was very senior in the party as number two in command and the VP for 10 years,” Masunungure said.

“They want to erase any memory of Mujuru being a VP. There are still many in the party who are sympathetic to her.

“It’s like they want to rewrite history by eliminating her role, which was a very big role since the liberation war until she was fired.

“It has proved to be a ghost they cannot exorcise and I doubt it can be exorcised to finality.”

Masunungure said Zanu PF was still afraid of Mujuru, adding that allegations of causing divisions did not stick because a year after her departure, factionalism had in fact worsened.

“Her departure has not stopped factionalism in Zanu PF. It has worsened,” he said.

“Her dismissal should have resulted in harmony and tranquillity, but it is getting worse. They are still anxious to get rid of Mujuru.”

Political analyst Takura Zhangazha said the continued attacks on Mujuru were a way of inciting people to reject her as a leader.

“They are just maligning her from being accepted as a leader,” he said.

Zhangazha said Zanu PF had always survived on such tricks and they did the same to opposition leaders such as Morgan Tsvangirai as a way of creating divisions within their supporters.

Research and Advocacy Unit chairperson Lloyd Sachikonye weighed in, saying Zanu PF was particularly worried about the experience within members of People First.

“They see her as a threat to Zanu PF and that is why they are still doing that to her. It’s obvious that she is mobilising through the People First movement,” he said.

“They [People First] are a major threat to Zanu PF because of the credentials they have, especially the likes of Mujuru herself, Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa, who have experience in administration and government.

“This constitutes the reason why they see her as a threat to them.”

Sachikonye said People First’s capacity could only be assessed once the movement was launched.

“It’s another elementary issue. It hasn’t been set up yet and we cannot assess its capacity before it is launched,” he said.

Civil rights activist Gladys Hlatywayo said Mujuru was still popular within many circles and the onslaught by Mugabe and his wife meant to dent her image.

“Zanu PF’s propaganda over the past 35 years has been [aimed at making people believe] it is the only political party fit to rule because of its liberation credentials,” she said.

“We are now seeing those with liberation war credentials joining the opposition, no wonder the revisionism on the role played by Mujuru in Zimbabwe’s liberation.

“But perhaps more importantly, Zanu PF may know what we don’t know in terms of Mujuru’s support base within the State and Zanu PF structures.

“In the absence of Mugabe, her support within the State, especially within the security organs, might be more lethal given power configurations in Zimbabwe. The game is about control of the State apparatus.

“Mujuru certainly has some currency in those circles, being a war veteran herself and the wife of a decorated army general.”

People First spokesperson Gumbo said they would not be moved by the attacks, claiming Zimbabweans were behind Mujuru.

“The reality of the matter is that they fired Mujuru and there should not be any reason to continue castigating and soiling her name. That is cruel and [a show of] intolerance,” Gumbo said.

“They are afraid of her and they think by soiling her name, she will not launch her party. However, such tactics will not work because people are really behind Mujuru.”

Mujuru joins other liberation war icons such as the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa and liberation war hero Lookout Masuku to be accused of treason.

Other opposition leaders that have been charged with treason after independence are Tsvangirai, MDC leader Welshman Ncube, the late Ndabaningi Sithole and Renson Gasela.

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