via Is Mujuru facing imminent arrest? – DailyNews Live 17 November 2014 by Gift Phiri and Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Speculation was rife yesterday that beleaguered Vice President Joice Mujuru could face imminent arrest over sensational claims by State media that her supporters were plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.
This swirling suspicion comes as the Zanu PF number two herself made a spirited defence of her political and business life — in which she took the war to the veteran leader’s wife as well as the State media that has been rubbishing her name to no end.
However, police could not shed light on the speculation that she could be arrested, as the party’s unpredictable and succession-linked factional wars are getting increasingly messier, and violent by the day.
Quizzed by the Daily News on whether police would investigate the treason charges being levelled against Mujuru and her allies, national spokesperson Charity Charamba said she was “on a sabbatical” and referred the newspaper to her colleague Paul Nyathi, who was not reachable on his mobile phone despite repeated attempts to talk to him.
Underlining the hot potato nature of Zanu PF’s ugly infighting, prosecutor-general Johannes Tomana retorted with a terse “By who?”, before ending the call abruptly, when the Daily News telephoned him to ask whether his office had been asked to probe the alleged Mugabe assassination claims.
But a well-placed party source said last night that the assassination and treason allegations being levelled against perceived followers of Mujuru were only meant to ensure that the 59-year-old widow of the late liberation war hero, Solomon Mujuru, did not have “a snowball’s chance in Hell” at Zanu PF’s December elective congress.
“I’m sure even you know that all those allegations are contrived. They are meant to ensure that Mai Mujuru does not have a snowball’s chance in Hell, otherwise law enforcement agents would have picked up the whole group a long time ago” the politburo member said.
This view was supported by prominent national political players and analysts, with one of them describing the stunning allegations as “nothing more than mere sabre-rattling, and crass skulduggery”.
The State-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper fingered two of the VP’s closest allies yesterday – former Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and current secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa – accusing them of having recently “spoken of assassinating” Mugabe.
The paper also said its “investigations” had also revealed that another senior Mujuru ally, an unnamed Cabinet minister who hails from Mashonaland Central where the VP comes from, had “made contingencies for such a scenario (Mugabe’s planned assassination) during recent meetings with potential hitmen in South Africa and Israel”.
But Gumbo flatly rejected the accusations.
“Vanondipa mbiri yandisina (they are giving me fame that I don’t deserve). I will not do anything to harm anyone. Now I am suspended what more can I do. All I can say is I dismiss the allegations with the contempt they deserve.
“My stance has always been the same, that the party has been infiltrated. I remain resolute and convinced that there are people destroying the party from inside. Now I will be watching from the terraces and see what will happen,” he said.
His alleged partner-in-crime, Mutasa, politely declined to comment on the matter.
But former Cabinet minister Dumiso Dabengwa – who also faced treason charges and was incarcerated by Mugabe’s government in the early years of Zimbabwe’s independence – said the accusations against Mujuru and her allies appeared designed to “cripple her (Mujuru’s) chances” of retaining the VP post at Zanu PF’s December congress.
“I hope this is not being done to de-campaign her so as to disqualify her from retaining her position. If there was any truth in the accusations we would expect that she would have been charged already,” the Zapu leader said.
Dabengwa said when Mugabe wanted to have the Zapu leadership arrested in the early 1980s, an arms cache had allegedly been planted to nail them.
“When we were charged with treason, an arms cache was found at our farm, the whole idea being to destroy Zapu,” the former Home Affairs minister said.
Dabengwa, a revered former freedom fighter and liberation war icon, said knowing the character of Mujuru as he did, it was “impossible to imagine” that she would ever contemplate a coup against Mugabe.
“Knowing her and her character… I doubt she would ever contemplate or associate with anyone plotting a coup. This mudslinging doesn’t do us any good. As political leaders we should respect our party constitutions. How will you uphold the country’s constitution when you do not respect your own,” he said.
Asked whether Mujuru’s arrest was possibly imminent, Dabengwa said “if there is any genuine charges against the vice president the investigators should have by now compiled the docket on her, and have the constitutional right to arrest her on those charges, but I doubt they have any evidence”.
But Dewa Mavhinga, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson, said the very serious allegations “around Mujuru and business people perceived to be financing her amount to warning shots before drastic action is possibly taken”.
“Whether or not it is true, or whether or not Mai Mujuru can possibly have that capacity is neither here nor there, the bottom line is that the bigger picture is a political game which goes beyond Zanu PF circles,” the senior researcher with Human Rights Watch said.
“Mujuru’s problems are mounting and things could get worse before they get better. Her perceived allies in the provinces have been purged and this latest round of troubles is an escalation of pressure for her to resign before congress,” Mavhinga added.
Giles Mutsekwa, an ex-soldier and former co-Home Affairs Minister in the unity government, said no one in Zimbabwe could ever contemplate assassinating the ever heavily-guarded Mugabe.
“It is not feasible that the vice president would ever contemplate that, and going by the kind of security that we have around the president it is absolutely not possible.
“They are just trying to soil the vice ahead of congress,” he said.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, a director of local political think-tank Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), said people behind the smear campaign were “evil”.
“Those allegations are legally, coherently and politically very shallow. Zanu PF should do the honourable thing and fire Mujuru if it no longer wants her. To criminalise the VP in that manner is archaic and existed in medieval politics.
“If Mugabe wants to maintain the little left of his legacy, he is (better) advised not to criminalise that liberation war widow. That woman contributed much along with her family, for this nation to be where it is today,” he said.
Asked if the guerrilla war heroine was capable of plotting a coup, the ZDI founder said: “The VP could not be that naïve to be involved in a coup. That story is treacherous and those who are advancing it are the most evil people in this country. There is nothing wrong in constitutionally removing the VP, but not in the manner they are doing.
“If her husband Solomon, who was an army commander did not attempt a coup, what about her? She has only been an acting Defence minister and never a State Security minister, so how then can she plan a coup,” Ruhanya asked.
“Her history does not show what these people are saying and, with due respect, the president should just behave like a statesman and stop this,” he added.
Ruhanya described with the current developments, including the possible arrest of a sitting VP, as “sheer political madness”.
“Anything can happen when lawless takes precedence, but it will be unfortunate…. When the history of this country is written, Mugabe will be portrayed as the villain if this woman is arrested,” he said.
Quizzed about the possibility of people like Nigel Chanakira and Ray Kaukonde helping to mobilise resources for the ouster of Mugabe from power, economic commentator Chris Mugaga said he doubted “the authenticity of the story”.
“Isn’t it more or less the same accusations that Mujuru has faced that she owns 10 percent of the Daily News? It’s hogwash. It’s unsubstantiated. Is there any evidence to what is being said?” he asked.
“Joshua Nkomo, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Ndabaningi Sithole, Justice Dumbuchena, Patrick Kombayi, Morgan Tsvangirai and now Joice Mujuru have all, among many others, been accused of treason each time Mugabe’s power has come under threat,” Mugaga observed further.