FORMER Vice-President Joice Mujuru has disclosed that President Robert Mugabe had effectively anointed her successor only to be sabotaged by “male chauvinists and misguided” women within Zanu PF.
Source: ‘Mugabe anointed me successor’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 9, 2017
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
Mujuru revealed that her ambition was scuttled by her male political counterparts who were not ready to subject themselves to a female leader when it became apparent that she was Mugabe’s heir apparent.
The National People’s Party (NPP) leader, who served as Mugabe’s deputy both in Zanu PF and government for 10 years, was seen as a shoo-in to take over from the long-time ruler until she was fired from Zanu PF in 2015.
She also claimed she was nearly killed during the liberation struggle while defending women fighters against sexual abuse.
“While fighting the enemy, in our military camps, I was confronted by a different war; a war I had to fight against fellow comrades. Almost on a daily basis, I had to stand up against the abuse of female freedom fighters by male commanders who were above my military rank. It was a cause I dedicated my life towards, a cause for which I almost lost my life,” Mujuru said.
Addressing an audience commemorating International Women’s Day at the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom, Mujuru, however, said she remained disturbed that many cases of persecution and abuse of women by men always found willing accomplices “in fellow women”.
“When it became apparent that I was the clear successor to President Robert Mugabe, men seemed not ready for that although the nation had fully endorsed my candidature. In Zimbabwe then, it was a difficult task to deconstruct and disabuse men of the Victorian male chauvinism that colonialism had reinforced on an equally patriarchal African tradition,” she said.
Mujuru rose to the position of Vice-President in 2004 at Mugabe’s benevolence after the Zanu PF leader pulled
the rug from under then party secretary for administration and now Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s feet.
At the time Mugabe urged Mujuru to “aim higher”.
But things took an unprecedented turn in 2014 after First Lady Grace Mugabe took charge of the Zanu PF women’s league, which she then used to demonise Mujuru and force Mugabe into “baby-dumping” his then deputy.
“What is sad in most of these cases of persecution and abuse of women is that men find willing accomplices in some of our own fellow women. This was the case in Zimbabwe where those at the forefront of sidelining me were fellow women. This is a cancer that we must deal with as women if we are to advance in various leadership positions,” she said wistfully.
In apparent reference to her former colleagues in the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party from which she broke away last month, Mujuru said she had carried “male chauvinists” from Zanu PF into the opposition party.
“They wanted to capitalise on my brand and leverage support with the citizens, but had plans to ditch me for a male leader once I had done all the ground work. I endured insults and abuse from these male opportunists until I had to pick myself up in the interest of the common good,” she said.
“This is the background to the so-called split that you might have read about. I had to exercise my authority and expelled the rogue elements. Sadly, as always there were willing accomplices to help the men advance their cause.”
Mujuru decided to form NPP after a nasty fallout with former allies Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo, who now co-lead ZimPF.
She paid tribute to global political female trendsetters, among them German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, saying she found inspiration from them to challenge Mugabe next year.
Mujuru said Zimbabwe had many good laws that could advance the interests of women, but lack of willingness by Mugabe’s regime to implement them was reversing the gains.