VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru is reportedly in hot soup after it emerged the President’s Office has instituted an investigation into media reports claiming she insinuated that President Robert Mugabe could soon be “called by God” and that she was well positioned to succeed him.
Mujuru reportedly said this in an interview with a local privately-owned daily newspaper at the memorial service for her late husband Retired General Solomon Mujuru at the family’s farm in Beatrice at the weekend.
“We know that the President will soon be 90 and God might decide to call him, he has taught us a lot and how to lead the party. Zanu PF will never die because President Mugabe is no longer there; there are people who now can lead the party,” she was quoted as saying.
The utterances are believed to have widened divisions in Zanu PF, with party bigwigs, war veterans, top military personnel and a faction reportedly led by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is said to be baying for the Vice-President’s blood.
These people are said to be livid with Mujuru, saying her words were as good as wishing Mugabe dead.
There is belief in the Zimbabwean body politic that Mujuru and Mnangagwa lead factions that are fighting to succeed Mugabe, although both have denied the existence of such rival camps.
The Constitution states that in the event that the President is unable to complete his term of office for any reason, the ruling party would elect a successor.
Sources in the party said the President’s Office was probing the authenticity of utterances attributed to Mujuru.
But Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday said Mujuru had been misquoted.
Impeccable party sources told NewsDay that the Mnangagwa faction had seized the opportunity to create a rift between Mujuru and Mugabe so that Mnangagwa remained in the succession battle.
“It was an exaggeration,” Gumbo said yesterday. “You journalists have a tendency of picking a word and blow issues out of context and proportion.”
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba could not be drawn to comment on the matter and on being asked if there was a presidential probe on the matter he denied. “It is your creation,” he said, before hanging up.
NewsDay is, however, reliably informed Mujuru’s alleged utterances have caused an uproar in the party and sections of the military and war veterans.
Sources said some party bigwigs (names supplied) opposed to Mujuru met on Sunday immediately after the story was published to find ways of blocking her.
The sources added that the Vice-President’s rivals debated several strategies including organising an anti-Mujuru demonstration.
War veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda yesterday professed ignorance over reports that the former liberation war fighters were plotting an anti-Mujuru demonstration, but said it was “unthinkable” that Mujuru could have made the alleged remarks.
“I am hearing it for the first time. It could be a mistake by the newspaper. I might have to hear it from her personally. If she did say that, it is unthinkable to predict the death of a patriot. But if she did say that, it shows that she falls below the position which we expect her to be in,” Sibanda said.
“How can we wish him (Mugabe) dead when we should be wishing him well so that he completes his term of office and fulfil the new mandate he has been given by the people?”