The late army commander Retired General Solomon Mujuru reportedly confronted President Robert Mugabe two weeks before the March 2008 harmonised elections and told the 87-year-old Zanu PF leader to step down to avoid humiliation at the hands of MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai.
According to latest diplomatic cables intercepted and released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, Mujuru had earlier sought US intervention to oust President Mugabe before the 2008 presidential plebiscite.
Mujuru — a Zanu PF politburo member who died in a mysterious inferno at his Alamein Farm in Beatrice in August — was widely viewed as the only person with the guts to confront President Mugabe.
The late general’s confidant and associate Tirivanhu Mudariki reportedly told then US Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee that Mujuru was fed up with President Mugabe. He had then told the President in a meeting that his support base was dwindling and he had to avoid humiliation by stepping down.
“The Zanu PF faction loyal to Solomon Mujuru was so desperate to get rid of President Robert Mugabe before the crucial extraordinary congress of 2007 that it sought help from the United States government,” said McGee in the cable.
“Mudariki said Mujuru was so p****d off with Mugabe that he might publicly declare his support for Simba Makoni. He had so far delayed announcing this because he was afraid of jeopardising his wife’s position as Vice-President.
“Mujuru, he said, was an active supporter and adviser of Makoni. He had been travelling extensively throughout the country to gauge Makoni’s support and had concluded that the MDC’s Tsvangirai had the most support of the three major candidates.”
Mudariki, according to the diplomatic cables, added: “Mujuru told Mugabe that he had little support in the country; resignation would avoid an electoral humiliation.”
In earlier cables, Mujuru reportedly confirmed President Mugabe had kept him under Central Intelligence Organisation surveillance over the latter’s alleged link to Makoni.
This came out during a meeting another former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, had with one of Mujuru’s lieutenants, David Butau, on May 31 2007 that the camp had done everything it could to gain control of the ruling party structures. Butau is a businessman and former Zanu PF MP for Guruve North.
Butau said instead of targeting President Mugabe directly, the Mujuru faction had decided to undermine his supporters, chiefly Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, the late Zanu PF commissar Elliot Manyika, then Security minister Didymus Mutasa (now Minister of State for Presidential Affairs), and then Deputy Youth minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
“Noting that the ongoing economic crisis was crippling the pocketbooks of ruling party insiders, Butau contended that the only way to confront Mugabe’s inner circle was on economic issues. To that end, Butau (who also chairs Parliament’s Budget Committee) noted that his Committee had recently taken Gono to task on his failure to stabilise the economy. Specifically, the faction wants to link its intra-party opponents to high-level corruption, which they could then take to the military and the party to convince those structures to rebuke (President)Mugabe.”
Mujuru’s death two months ago has raised a lot of speculation after police declined to disclose results of their investigations. Instead, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri said they had since handed their probe results to the courts for a possible inquest.
Legal experts hinted last week the inquest might involve exhumation of Mujuru’s remains.
Strenuous efforts to get a comment from Mudariki were fruitless.