FORMER Vice-President and Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party leader Joice Mujuru staged a “palace coup” over the weekend when she hosted over 100 disgruntled war veterans, among them ex-top government officials, NewsDay has established.
by EVERSON MUSHAVA/MOSES MATENGA
The ex-bureaucrats allegedly pledged to join her after they apologised profusely for propping up Zanu PF misrule through violent campaigns since 1985.
The disgruntled ex-combatants, drawn mostly from Zanla and Zipra general staff, reportedly met Mujuru at a lodge outside Harare on Saturday, while 295km south of the capital, President Robert Mugabe was blasting the former fighters for disrespecting his wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Mujuru is set to address her first Press conference as opposition leader this week in the capital as she finalises preparations for her party launch.
ZPF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed Mujuru’s Saturday indaba with the war veterans, who included former Zanu PF Manicaland chairman Ambassador John Shumba Mvundura and Ambassador Agrippa Mutambara, among others.
“Yes, the war vets met Amai Mujuru and they apologised,” Gumbo said.
He dismissed as “wishful thinking” the weekend claims by Mugabe that Mujuru’s party would disintegrate before the 2018 general elections.
“That is wishful thinking. Wishful thinking indeed, unless he knows something, but otherwise, that is all he is wishing for,” Gumbo said.
Mugabe, while addressing party supporters who gathered to celebrate his 92nd birthday bash in Masvingo, on Saturday said: “Those who came from us tried to take our name and said we are People First. You will hear People First, People Second, People Third, and People Fourth. Zanu PF will remain Zanu PF, very strong, no change.”
The Mujuru-war veterans meeting comes as relations between Zanu PF’s top leadership and ex-combatants have taken a nosedive after police, two weeks ago, violently crushed a meeting organised by War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa to discuss their welfare.
The attack came after Grace, at her campaign rally in Chiweshe, chastised Mutsvangwa and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa for allegedly plotting Mugabe’s downfall.
Ironically, Mutsvangwa, whose political career had seemed to hang in the balance in the past few days, was among frontrunners who led the anti-Mujuru campaign ahead of the ruling party’s December 2014 elective congress, which led to her ouster from both Zanu PF and government.
The smear campaign was later hijacked by Grace, who publicly accused Mujuru of practising witchcraft and plotting to unconstitutionally succeed Mugabe.
A Mujuru source who attended the weekend meeting said the freedom fighters also apologised for participating in State-sponsored sting operations and smear campaigns, which triggered her ouster from the governing party and government.
A war veteran identified as Nicholas Kativhu allegedly bemoaned the “dirty roles” played by freedom fighters in fighting Mujuru and opposition MDC-T activists.
Kativhu admitted that some war veterans were now being forced to discredit Mnangagwa as the race to succeed Mugabe reaches a crescendo.
Another war veteran identified as Shephered Kapota implored liberation war fighters to shun violence and desist from being used as “dogs of war” to protect the Zanu PF elite.
In between their speeches, the war veterans burst into a popular liberation war song Nzira Dzemasoja, which calls for discipline among cadres.
Mujuru told the war veterans that she did not begrudge them for decampaigning her, adding she had longed to meet them while she was still in Zanu PF, but was blocked by her rivals who feared she could divide their loyalty to Mugabe.
She also disclosed that contrary to reports that she was fired, she had actually resigned and bade Mugabe farewell in December 2014 before the Zanu PF politburo resolved to fire her from the party in April 2015.
“I said to myself December 1, 2014 was the D-day,” Mujuru reportedly told the war veterans.
“I then went to Mugabe’s office and spoke to him. I told him that my hands and heart are clean. I have never planned to harm or kill anyone and I said to him that tomorrow (at the politburo meeting on December 02 2014), I won’t be among you. I’m leaving Zanu PF and I am happy to do that with my hands clean.”
She implored the war veterans to work peacefully in mobilising Zimbabweans from all walks of life to join her party.