FORMER Vice-President Joice Mujuru has unwittingly put herself on a possible collision course with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai after she announced on Monday that she was angling to lead a proposed grand coalition of opposition parties.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Mujuru, who now heads the opposition National People’s Party, made the revelations while addressing the International Sheroes Forum in Ghana on Monday.
The former Vice-President said she believed she was the right candidate to lead the project, given her liberation war credentials and 34 years’ experience as a top government official and that she was the only female politician heading a political party.
“As I prepare for my presidential bid for our 2018 elections, I take comfort in the fact that others have done it.
The experience this far has hardened me and prepared me for the great task ahead,” Mujuru said.
“Having spent seven years in the bush and 34 years in government and almost two years in opposition politics, I need to assure fellow women that nothing is impossible. There is no territory that is a preserve for men.
“This year’s theme — Empowering Women to be Successful in Business and Political Leadership — is quite apt, coming at a time when we are seeing more and more women challenging the status quo in both business and politics.”
Mujuru’s remarks come as Tsvangirai rapped opposition colleagues who were only in the coalition talks because they sought top positions.
Tsvangirai has signed memoranda of understanding with Mujuru and MDC leader Welshman Ncube to lay the foundations for the proposed coalition, whose leader has not yet been named.
Tsvangirai’s supporters have vowed to scuttle the coalition talks if he is not chosen as coalition leader.
“As Africans, we come from a highly patriarchal society, where the role of the woman has always been relegated to a welfare officer at home, leaving the world of business and politics to men,” Mujuru said.
“I know we have waited for long, waiting for salvation to come from men, but I am here to tell you: Woman, you can do it for yourself and for your fellow women.
“We are our own liberators. We have the numbers. Women alone, in a democracy, can determine who should govern them by virtue of their numbers and influence in society.
“The time is now to catch on the tide.”
Mujuru lamented how male chauvinism denied her the chance to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
“When I was almost getting to the Presidency, as Vice-President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the world of male chauvinists would not have any of that,” she said.
“They went on to break their own laws just to get rid of me and, sadly, they found willing women accomplices to complete their task.
“As we speak today, some of those women are regretting having been used and abandoned by the same system.
“To all women, I say let us support one another for a better world moderated by mothers. Let’s elect her.”
Mujuru served as a minister from 1980 to 2004, when she was elevated to become President Robert Mugabe’s deputy, until her dismissal in 2015 on allegations of plotting the 93-year-old Zanu PF leader’s ouster.
The Sheroes Foundation is a Ghana-based international non-profit organisation committed to supporting and promoting women in all facets of life.
The foundation’s objective is to create a platform for communication, connection and community and it strives to ensure every woman and girl in Africa achieves her full potential in education, career, politics and life; and to ensure that women are at the heart of sustainable development, peace and economic growth in Africa.
Mujuru was in 2016 honoured by the foundation during its annual meeting in Dubai and this year, she was one of the top speakers at the meeting in Accra, Ghana.
This year’s event saw the foundation launching the “Elect Her” campaign, which seeks to push for more women participation by bringing together individuals and groups to share ideas, knowledge, experiences and practices that are effective.
“My war experience taught me the power of the women, that even though most of them were not at the war front, the war could not have been won without the role of women in various capacities,” Mujuru said.
“Sadly, the moment we got Independence, the governance game was for men. I was one of the few who was lucky to be part of the government at a very tender age of 25.
“I have seen a lot, I have made my contributions, I have made mistakes, I have had my lessons. But at the end of it all, I realised women can do it.”
On Monday, Tsvangirai issued a strongly-worded statement, where he cautioned his peers in the opposition against jostling for top posts at the expense of crafting a policy framework to guide government business in the post-Mugabe era.