PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s bid to ditch Vice-President Joice Mujuru started way back in 2007, barely three years after he had catapulted her into the presidium at the expense of Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who had won the support of eight nominations in the build-up to the 2004 congress.
On the eve of his birthday in February 2007, Mugabe surprisingly made veiled attacks on Mujuru, virtually accusing her of plotting to undermine him while in the process promoting her own presidential bid.
Mugabe related how Mujuru connived with the late former Zanu PF firebrand and also former secretary-general, the late Edgar Tekere and publisher Ibbo Mandaza to use Tekere’s autobiography, A Lifetime of Struggle, to expose him in their bid to damage him politically.
Seven years down the line, Mugabe gave the clearest indication again at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare, that he is backing his wife Grace and the Mnangagwa faction in their bid to oust Mujuru at the forthcoming crucial December congress.
Although he was measured in his attacks as compared to the rabid approach of Grace and Mnangagwa camp activists, Mugabe all but endorsed the removal of Mujuru when he said “when a marriage breaks down, a divorced wife is given time to pack instead of chasing her on the spur of the moment”.
He said this to a boisterous clamour among the youths and war veterans bussed from various provinces to the Zanu PF headquarters in Zupco and Swift buses. The crowd waved anti-Mujuru camp placards, demanding she resigns immediately.
In his 2007 ZBC interview, Mugabe suggested Tekere was being used by Mandaza, the publisher and editor of the book, and the Mujuru faction to damage him for political ends.
“The Tekere/Mandaza issue, ah they are trying to campaign for Mujuru using the book … you can’t become a president by using a biography. Manje vairasa (they have lost the plot). They don’t realise they have done her more harm than good,” Mugabe is captured as saying.
“Now, I thought people would, if they want to campaign, fine, campaign in the provinces. The machinery is not biographies; the people who vote for us are ordinary people of Zimbabwe. We have a congress that will decide. It is those people who will decide and I thought this is the way we would go about things, not the Mandaza way,” Mugabe said then.
Mugabe suggested Mujuru’s ambitions to succeed him were “ruined” by her associating with people on a campaign to denigrate him.
Tekere’s book portrays Mugabe as a reluctant leader who rose to power through political coups and detention camp plots. It also states some of his leading comrades during the war viewed him as a “sell-out.”
In the same interview, Mugabe dented Mujuru’s ambitions while praising Mnangagwa by speaking about him in glowing terms.
Mugabe said there were people who thought he supported Mnangagwa, but he did not.
He went on to narrate Mnangagwa’s political case history dating back to the early years of the liberation struggle; how Mnangagwa was sentenced to death by the Rhodesian regime after he tried to sabotage a train and how he was spared execution and later deported to Zambia because he was deemed under age at 16 years old.
Mugabe further related how Mnangagwa, later in Mozambique, became Zanu’s chief of intelligence, replacing Cletus Chigowe who was in 1978 together with Henry Hamadziripi, party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, Crispen Mandizvidza and Zivavarwe Muparuri, implicated in an attempted coup against the Zanu leadership.
… How it started
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was furious about the controversial autobiography by veteran nationalist Edgar Tekere — A Lifetime of Struggle — which questioned his claims of being a towering liberation war hero.
Tekere effectively painted a picture of Mugabe as a coward and reluctant timid leader who did not even want to take the Zanu leadership from Ndabaningi Sithole when nominated in jail and who also refused to wear military fatigues during visits to the battlefront and did not know how to fire a gun.
Tekere also said Mugabe was viewed as a “sell-out” by combatants, Zanla commander Josiah Tongogara and Mozambican President Samora Machel.
This led to internal revolts and arrests of certain senior leaders and commanders after Mugabe’s arrival in Mozambique. Tekere also shed light on the dark corners of Mugabe’s personal and private life history which was not previously known.
Mugabe blamed the late retired General Solomon Mujuru and his wife, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, and author Ibbo Mandaza for collaborating to launch a campaign to discredit and besmirch him using the explosive memoir which caused a stir at the time of its publication in 2007.
These events marked the genesis of Mujuru’s problems and Mugabe made it clear in an edited interview with ZBC on the eve of his birthday that year he was not amused by Tekere, the Mujurus and Mandaza.
Typically, when Tekere died in 2011, Mugabe did not attend his burial at Heroes Acre even though they escaped together to join the liberation struggle in Mozambique in 1975.
To make matters worse, the Mujuru faction pressured Mugabe in 2007 to accept an extraordinary congress which was designed to remove him from the party’s leadership position. Former Zanu PF politburo senior members, Dumiso Dabengwa and Simba Makoni — who were aligned to the Mujuru faction — led the campaign.
Prior to that in 2006, the Mujuru faction had blocked Mugabe at the Goromonzi conference from extending his rule to 2010 without going through an election.