Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru has claimed her husband, Solomon, was shot before he was burnt, claims that are likely to re-ignite the debate into the death the country’s first army commander, whose demise in a mysterious fire continues to baffle Zimbabweans almost five years later.
By XOLISANI NCUBE
Mujuru, in an interview with the United Kingdom’s Sunday Times, said her husband’s killers will be revealed at some stage and they 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 said she was woken up at 1:30am on the fateful August 2011 night and she rushed to the farm, still in her pyjamas, after she heard reports there had been a fire.
“The Harare fire brigade was there, but they had no water, so we had to use the farm bowsers,” she told the UK paper, “and 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.
“It seemed to me there was some kind of accelerant.”
According to the Sunday Times article, a white farmer, who rushed to the scene, said he believed a white phosphorous grenade had been used to burn the body.
Solomon died in a mysterious house inferno at his Ruzambo Farm in Beatrice on August 15, 2011.
“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.
The family of the late general has claimed foul play Mujuru’s death after some witnesses, during the inquest held at Harare Magistrates’ Court, alleged they heard gunshots from the direction of the farmhouse on the fateful night.
A security guard at the farm also told the inquest, which was presided over by regional magistrate Walter Chikwanha, that when Mujuru arrived at his home on that night, he was in the company of a stranger, whose identity has remained a mystery.
Although Chikwanha ruled out foul play and said Mujuru could have perished due to choking from inhaling smoke from the fire, the cause of the inferno remains unexplained.
On First Lady Grace Mugabe, whose political stock has been rising since she orchestrated Mujuru’s axing, the former Vice-President said “her power only lasts as long as he (President Robert Mugabe) is there”.
“She saw me as a threat, both did,” she said.
Mujuru was accused of using witchcraft in a plot to oust and kill Mugabe, accusations she denies to this day.
“I am a Christian and a member of the Salvation Army. I have never used magic,” she insisted.
“A Head of State using this platform to lie and believing stories about frogs being kept in a calabash and if one dies, he will die, I said to myself: ‘What a backward man’.”
Mujuru said she confronted Mugabe after she was accused of plotting his ouster and he said this was what intelligence reports were telling him.
She said following that encounter, she left the meeting in fear, her mouth completely dry.
In December 2014, Mujuru was fired as Vice-President, “It was the shock of my life,” she said.
In spite of claims she embellished her liberation war record, Mujuru insisted she had downed a helicopter during the armed struggle.
The ex-VP also took a dig at her former boss, saying Mugabe slept quite often during Cabinet meetings, adding that in most instances, she had to chair the meetings.
But Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday disputed Mujuru’s claims that Mugabe slept in Cabinet meetings.
“I don’t remember seeing the President sleeping during Cabinet meetings,” he said. “She must explain what she meant there. But in any case, we don’t discuss Cabinet proceedings with the Press. She risks breaching the law (Official Secrets Act).”
Contacted for comment over Mujuru’s claims, Information minister Christopher Mushohwe said he had not yet seen the Sunday Times article.
“I will have to read through the report first and understand the import of her statements. Kindly email me the questions and the article so that I can read and I will respond,” he said.
He had not responded at the time of going to print.