THE mysterious death of decorated former army commander retired General Solomon Mujuru, in a suspicious farmhouse blaze in August 2011, which shocked many Zimbabweans, was a political assassination, a journal published by Oxford University in Britain says.
The journal, however, says the identity of the people who ordered and executed the assassination remains unknown.
A research article in Oxford’s top-ranked African Affairs Journal titled State Intelligence and the Politics of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Succession published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society on February 12 says Mujuru was murdered for political reasons.
Royal African Society is a British research organisation which focuses on African issues, including politics, business, culture and academia. Mujuru, who helped President Robert Mugabe to rise to power, led a faction which was locked in a protracted fierce battle with a camp led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The general in 2006 ruffled Mugabe’s feathers by blocking his bid to extend his rule by two years without going for elections.
In 2008, he angered Mugabe by supporting Mavambo/Kusile/ Dawn leader Simba Makoni in the presidential election, leading to his defeat by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of polling.
The journal says Mujuru was therefore viewed as being responsible for Mugabe’s defeat in the first round of the critical election. Mugabe later claimed victory in the run-off after Tsvangirai pulled out citing political violence and killings.
“General Mujuru considered himself under-educated, and hence preferred to encourage and support highly educated younger party members to aspire to the Zanu PF leadership instead,” reads the journal.
“After exploring various alternatives to Mugabe, General Mujuru settled on his wife Joice Mujuru. This can be seen in General Mujuru’s support for Mujuru’s rise to the Zimbabwean vice-presidency in 2004, which thwarted a contending bid by Mnangagwa.
“However, on August 15 2011, General Mujuru perished in a suspicious house fire on one of his commercial farms. I have interviewed a range of elite Zanu PF members since the fatal fire.
“A great majority of them, many of whom did not belong to the Mujuru faction, believe that General Mujuru’s death was a political assassination, but there is no consensus on who ordered the elimination.”
Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who was married to the general, a fortnight ago said her husband was killed before being burnt to ashes. The Mujuru family has also maintained they suspected foul play in the general’s death although an inquest presided over by magistrate Walter Chikwanha ruled that out amid criticisms it was a cover-up.
In an interview with a United Kingdom paper, Mujuru said her husband’s assassins were known to the “people in power”.
“I can’t say who did it, but they know, the people in power. It will come out,” she said.
Mujuru, who rushed to the family’s Ruzambo Farm in Beatrice outside Harare after being informed of the fire, said her husband’s body was engulfed by a blue flame suggesting an accelerant was used to burn his dead body.
“… We tried to pour water on his body. There was a blue, blue flame, almost one-and-a-half to two metres high, not normal at all,” she said. “It seemed to me there was some kind of accelerant.” Mujuru also said a white farmer who rushed to the scene said he believed a white phosphorous grenade had been used to burn the body.
“That wasn’t all that was strange: Solomon seemed to have made no effort to escape. The carpet underneath his body was not burnt,” she said.