Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Joice Mujuru must redeem herself | The Financial Gazette February 16, 2017
TO many people, the name Joice Mujuru symbolises triumph over adversity. Here is a woman who joined the armed struggle when she was 15 years of age, earning a place among Zimbabwe’s iconic liberation war fighters when she downed an enemy chopper in February 1974, in one of the epic battles that forced the brutal colonial regime of the late Ian Smith to negotiate for peace.
Upon the attainment of black majority rule in 1980, she became the youngest Cabinet minister in President Robert Mugabe’s government — at the age of 22 — notwithstanding her limited education at the time. Against all odds, she was able to upgrade herself, academically, graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the country’s oldest university, the University of Zimbabwe, in September 2014.
In politics, she became the first woman to land the vice presidency of the Republic, among other notable achievements. Nonetheless, there existed shrill voices that disparaged her achievements, alleging retired general Solomon Mujuru — her late husband — had been the force behind her political successes.
His cruel death in August 2011 was said to have robbed her of that pillar of strength when she needed it most. And, as fate would have it, political vultures descended on the widowed politician in the run up to ZANU-PF’s contentious December 2014 congress, resulting in her expulsion from both government and the ruling party on flimsy grounds.
In early 2015, Mujuru re-launched her political career, this time as leader of the now moribund Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party. Right from the word go, ZPF was an accident waiting to happen because of serious disagreements between its founding fathers over style of leadership, approach and political philosophy.
Things came to a head last week, with Mujuru dismissing seven of her party’s founding fathers, who swiftly responded to the brutal purge by giving their interim president her marching orders as well.
In no time, Mujuru’s political character has been tested and the jury is out: The ZPF leader has not acquitted herself well. Barring a miracle, the party could die in its infancy in her arms.
How on earth does an interim leader dismiss almost the entire top brass of a party without taking them through a disciplinary hearing? What sort of a constitution abrogates such sweeping powers to a leader who claims to be a democrat and to have reformed from the smash-and-grab politics practised in her former party, ZANU-PF?
It is also damning that her party is still to hold its inaugural convention since its formation in 2015. How, therefore, does it hope to take part in coalition talks when it does not have a substantive leadership? It also does not inspire confidence for a leader of an opposition party to surround herself with people who have questionable links to the same system she wants to wrest power from. And where on earth do you find an opposition leader who adopts a softly-softly approach towards the incumbent?
Mujuru has a lot to do to redeem herself. If she really wants to be taken seriously, she must give no hostages to fortune.
For now, it is very difficult to disagree with those who have been highly critical of her credentials.