FORMER vice-president Joice Mujuru appears safe from arrest and prosecution — at least for now — as President Robert Mugabe and top law enforcement agents balk at indicting her on corruption cases she was allegedly involved in during her long stay in government despite a complete docket.
Faith Zaba/Elias Mambo
Top government officials in the Office of the President and Cabinet told the Zimbabwe Independent this week a meeting between Mugabe, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who also runs the Justice ministry, and a senior official in the Prosecutor-General’s Office was held this month to deal with Mujuru’s case.
After police completed the docket, Mugabe, Mnangagwa and law officers decided to shelve the case as they feared it would appear like they are pursuing a vindictive political agenda in the aftermath of a bitter succession battle last December in which she was ruthlessly crushed and removed with her top allies.
Officials say police have completed their investigations and a docket outlining the graft charges was handed over to Mugabe. The police set up a team of senior detectives, led by Chief Superintendent Luckson Mukazhi, just before Christmas to investigate Mujuru. During the investigations, the team searched companies and premises linked to her after securing a search warrant from the High Court.
It also invited individuals whom it wanted to be witnesses to sign affidavits, but one potential key witness declined, saying he did not want to get entangled in the issue.
“I was invited to the police recently and they wanted me to sign an affidavit about a certain corruption case involving Mujuru, but I declined,” the source said. “I don’t want to be entangled in these issues; let them deal with that alone.”
A top government official said: “Police completed their investigations in January and the docket was handed over to senior police officers at the Police General Headquarters, but given Mujuru’s political stature, prosecution could not go ahead without the president’s approval.
“The President called the meeting to decide on how to proceed in relation to the case. It was agreed at the meeting that prosecuting Mujuru might have unintended political consequences for the party ahead of 2018 general elections.
“The fear is that even though they might have strong cases on some of the charges, prosecution would be viewed as political persecution of Mujuru, not a criminal matter.”
The official added: “What also influenced the decision not to prosecute for now was the fact that Mujuru has been silent, unlike Didymus Mutasa and others. She has remained quiet and respectful to Mugabe, his wife and the party, hence her prosecution would appear as if it’s only meant to settle political scores.”
Mujuru was dumped by Mugabe ahead of the Zanu PF congress in December. Her allies were also purged. More of her allies, Mutasa, Temba Mliswa and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, were removed this week.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 — without providing evidence — of, among other things, plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe, abuse of office, corruption, extorting shares from private companies and investors, demanding 10% bribes, and illicit dealings in diamonds and gold.
Despite the brutal attacks and threats of arrest, Mujuru sent a congratulatory message in December to Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko for their new appointments as the country’s vice-presidents.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said she has not been briefed about the investigations.
“I did not get any update on the matter, but I may find out and let you know,” she said.
However, police sources said the matter was being handled at the highest level and was kept under wraps even after Mugabe’s meeting with Mnangagwa and prosecutors.
Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana yesterday refused to comment on the case. Asked for comment, Mujuru yesterday also declined to discuss the issue, only tersely saying: “Ask them, they know better.”
Mujuru was recently quoted by the local media saying government should not waste public resources embarking on a wild goose chase, investigating her and her businesses over alleged corruption and abuse of office as she had done nothing wrong.
“I don’t have such companies that warrant that probe,” Mujuru was quoted saying in December. “Let them not waste government resources on me, leaving real thieves and corrupt people. I don’t have such businesses which are said to be targeted.”
While officially opening the 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.
“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,”Mugabe said.