FORMER vice-president Joice Mujuru’s fate rests with President Robert Mugabe who is expected to decide whether she should be prosecuted on graft charges when he returns from his holiday in the Far East next week, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Mujuru lost the vice-presidency after being dumped by Mugabe ahead of the Zanu PF congress in December.
Her ouster was sealed after she was subjected to a vicious and sustained public attack by First Lady Grace Mugabe and her supporters, who accused her of, among other things, plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe, abuse of office, corruption, extorting shares from private companies, and illegally dealing in diamonds and gold.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has assembled a team of detectives, led by Chief Superintendent Luckson Mukazhi, to investigate Mujuru. The team has searched companies and premises linked to her after securing a search warrant from the High Court.
A senior police officer revealed that although investigations had reached an advanced stage, Mugabe would ultimately make the decision on whether Mujuru is prosecuted or not.
“She may no longer be the vice-president, but the matter is being treated sensitively hence the President will make the decision, like he normally does in high profile cases. As it is, the investigating team is regularly briefing superiors at PGHQ (Police General Headquarters),” said the officer.
“The Commissioner-General (Augustine Chihuri) will obviously brief the President on the investigations and he is the one who will decide how we proceed.”
Another officer said the investigating team was not sure their investigations would lead to the prosecution of the former vice-president, given the politics at play.
“There is a chance that the powers that be ordered the investigation as part of plan to maintain pressure on Mujuru and her allies post congress. It is difficult to tell whether the investigations will amount to anything because the president will have the final call,” said the officer.
While officially opening the 6th Zanu PF congress in December last year, Mugabe said the former vice-president and her allies, including civil servants, faced arrest if evidence was found that they were corrupt.
“If the allegations are proved there will be prosecution … and if you were a minister, deputy minister or civil servant, basa rinobva rapera (you will be fired)… People will lose their jobs, ministers, civil servants will lose their jobs and even face the wrath (of the law).”
Mugabe literally called Mujuru a “thief” who had betrayed the trust placed on her by members of the Women’s League, who in 2004 recommended she be elevated to the post of Vice-President.
“In 2004, women said they want one of them in the top leadership of the party. We agreed on that and said it was fine. It was building our leadership in the party,” Mugabe said.
“You gave us someone whom you thought was honest; her name is Joice Mujuru.
“I do not want to blame the women for giving us the VP, you thought she was a good person. We do not choose you to be thieves, but to end it (theft) in your areas. You should never send a thief to catch a thief. If we are sent to catch thieves and we become thieves, who will catch the thieves?” Mugabe asked.
However, Mugabe has a long history of failing to match his anti-corruption rhetoric with substantive action.
Without mentioning names, Chihuri announced during a pass-out parade in December at Morris Depot that the police would swoop on corrupt people in line with Mugabe’s sentiments, leading to the team being set up to investigate Mujuru. This led to an uproar, with many observers pointing out Chihuri did not need Mugabe’s say-so to execute his duties.
“This stance is in line with the organisation’s constitutional mandate and, more importantly, with His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe’s (Robert Mugabe) sentiments during the official opening of the 6th Zanu PF national people’s congress.”
Mujuru has repeatedly proclaimed her innocence and in a statement last year said she was willing to stand trial.
Mugabe fired Mujuru and several ministers linked to her in the biggest purge in Zanu PF since Independence, paralysing her faction.
Among the casualties were Didymus Mutasa (Presidential Affairs minister), Webster Shamu (Information Communication Technology), Francis Nhema (Indigenisation), Olivia Muchena (Higher and Tertiary Education), Dzikamai Mavhaire (Energy), Nicholas Goche (Public Service), Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs minister) and Munacho Mutezo (Energy deputy minister).
He also dismissed Flora Buka (Minister of State for Presidential Affairs), Paul Chimedza (Health deputy minister), Sylvester Nguni (Minister of State in former Vice-President Mujuru’s Office), Tongai Muzenda (Public Service deputy minister), Petronella Kagonye (Transport deputy minister), Fortune Chasi (Justice deputy minister) and Tendai Savanhu (Lands deputy minister).