VICE-President Joice Mujuru is going nowhere despite calls by President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, that she should resign for alleged involvement in corruption, NewsDay has learnt.
In the clearest sign that the ruling Zanu PF party could soon implode following Grace’s unrestrained attack on Mujuru and her perceived allies and efforts to push her out, reports yesterday showed that her camp was gearing for a bareknuckle fight with her opponents.
Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly lead factions fighting to succeed Mugabe, who turns 91 next February.
During her “Meet The People Tour” rallies recently, Grace endorsed Mnangagwa while savaging Mujuru and her allies, among them Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde.
Mugabe, in a thinly veiled attack, also said Kaukonde, ousted Mashonaland West chairman Temba Mliswa and Mbire MP David Butau — all Mujuru allies — were plotting his ouster, but hinted the party’s December elective congress would
put the matter to rest.
But addressing journalists at the party’s headquarters yesterday, Gumbo accused the Mnangagwa faction of plotting another Tsholotsho saga ostensibly to topple both Mujuru and Mugabe, thereby destroying the legacy of the liberation struggle.
Gumbo said all along, the party had been quiet while the Mnangagwa faction was involved in its “regime change” agenda, adding that time to just watch was over.
“What people should bear in mind is that Mujuru is the VP. Whether you like it or not, she is the VP of the country and second secretary of the party. She deserves some respect. We can’t have a VP of the country being treated like that,” Gumbo declared.
“The party is fully aware that some within the party were trying to bring regime change in the country. These elements, you all know them, were identified in the debate in yesterday (Thursday)’s politburo meeting. It is unfortunate we are experiencing another Tsholotsho. The same people who planned the Tsholotsho meeting in 2004 are planning another one in 2014.”
Gumbo added: “The aim is to bring regime change. Of course, the aim is not only to bring down VP Mujuru, but President Mugabe as well and destroy the legacy of the liberation struggle.”
The Tsholotsho Declaration was made at a meeting at Dinyane Secondary School in Tsholotsho convened by Zanu PF provincial chairpersons and heavyweights who included Information minister Jonathan Moyo to allegedly conspire against Mugabe’s decision to have Mujuru as VP in 2004.
Mugabe reacted angrily by firing seven provincial chairpersons.
“As a party, we will not tolerate that. We debated about that in the politburo and agreed that the President sets up a commission of inquiry to establish who is wrong and right,” Gumbo said. “I thought I should make these comments because it is going too far. We have been quiet for a long time. We cannot continue to keep quiet. We have to bring sanity to the party.”
He added: “In the struggle, there are those who fight a just war and others who fight an unjust battle. The people who fight a just war will always prevail. You don’t live by plotting against others and manipulating people. Allegations against Mujuru are false and are the works of the forces to bring regime change. Genuine members follow party regulations.”
Before the Thursday politburo meeting, bussed Zanu PF supporters staged a demonstration, calling for the ouster of Mujuru and war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda.
The demonstration came after Grace held nationwide rallies criticising Mujuru, claiming she was “corrupt, an extortionist, and foolish”, and called for her immediate resignation from her VP post or risk being “baby-dumped”.
Grace was accompanied by Moyo, Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao and businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, among others, all believed to be in the Mnangagwa camp.
Gumbo dismissed as sinister allegations that Mujuru wanted to topple Mugabe.
He said Mujuru had chronicled her liberation history and openly stated she had never allocated herself any position, but was appointed by Mugabe.
Gumbo urged the media to report politburo proceedings objectively, saying the party welcomed constructive, not destructive, criticism.
“Unfortunately, it is quite shocking to see The Herald devouring Mujuru. The Herald report was particularly negative, damaging and unprofessional. This is our public media and it decided to go about writing allegations and not things that have been proved in a court of law about the VP,” he said.
Referring to Mujuru’s speech last Saturday at a function at Dotito Primary School in Mt Darwin to celebrate her conferment by the University of Zimbabwe of a PhD in September, Gumbo said the VP’s speech was full of maturity.
He said the speech demonstrated that Mujuru was leadership material, contrary to claims by the Mnangagwa faction that she was inept.
Gumbo said, as the regime change unfolds, the party was witnessing an onslaught on provincial executives who were rightfully elected by the people.
“We can see a hidden agenda in all this,” Gumbo said.
The Thursday politburo meeting was reportedly explosive.
Highly-placed sources told NewsDay Gumbo openly challenged Mnangagwa and Moyo in the meeting, accusing them of hijacking Grace’s rallies.
He told Mnangagwa that Grace’s tone became harsh after the Masvingo rally which they all attended.
Gumbo is said to have challenged Moyo, who had been writing damning articles about Mugabe prior to the 2008 general elections, for causing divisions.
Politburo member Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube is said to have accused the Mnangagwa faction of using Grace to destroy the party, particularly in Bulawayo.
He reportedly told Mugabe that the party now had a tall order to lure back the supporters who had been demeaned by Grace.
Angeline Masuku, a politburo member, former Matabeleland governor and widow of former Zipra chief of staff the late Lookout Masuku, is said to have agreed with Dube’s assessment.
Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi reportedy warned Mugabe that his attack on Sibanda could be a security threat and could split the army along Zanla and Zipra lines.
The politburo meeting, sources told NewsDay, was highly explosive and frank as factions fought for political turf.