PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday threatened to arrest the embattled Vice-President Joice Mujuru and ministers backing her implicated in corruption should concrete evidence be gathered.
Report by Elias Mambo
In his opening remarks to delegates at the 6th Zanu PF congress in Harare, Mugabe said he knew of many corruption allegations against high-ranking officials, including his deputy.
Corruption accusations against Mujuru were first raised by First Lady Grace Mugabe who, during countrywide rallies and meetings, accused the Vice-President of abuse of office, subversion, extortion, illicit underworld diamond dealings, blackmailing corporates to grab 10% equities and corruption in general.
Mugabe said if evidence was found, those fingered would be brought to book, including civil servants linked to ministers.
“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 said Mujuru was 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 be 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.
In his introductory remarks, an angry Mugabe said Mujuru absented herself from the congress without permission.
“Ndiwo maitiro embavha (that is how thieves behave),” Mugabe said.
Mujuru has lately snubbed Zanu PF events and was conspicuous by her absence during Tuesday’s politburo meeting, Wednesday’s central committee meeting and the official opening ceremony of congress yesterday.
She did not attend last week’s politburo meeting.
The Vice-President has also been accused of plotting to topple or assassinate Mugabe.
Last month Grace accused Mujuru of swindling the ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, Sheikh Saud Al Qasimi of US$10 million last year. She reportedly convinced him to sign a number of memoranda of understanding in the areas of energy, mining and pharmaceuticals after making him believe Zimbabwe would do business with his emirate if she assumes power.
Mujuru, however, denied the allegations against her in a press statement last month.
“I regret that certain persons have elected to make false, unsubstantiated, malicious, defamatory and irresponsible statements about me, solely for the purpose of engineering their widespread publication in all forms of media across the world, and bringing the ruling party, Zanu PF, the government and the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, into disrepute,” read the statement.