via Mujuru hits back – DailyNews Live 8 September 2014
HARARE – Vice President Joice Mujuru has reportedly challenged Oppah Muchinguri to “take a risk” and stand for election against her at the December Zanu PF elective congress.
Mujuru, who until recently has been President Robert Mugabe’s nominal heir as first vice president of Zimbabwe and of Zanu PF, has headed off allegations that she is plotting to take over from Mugabe and was against the ascendancy of First Lady Grace, who is seen gunning for a higher post after being nominated to be the Women’s League national secretary.
With the Justice minister and Chirumanzu-Zibagwe MP Emmerson Mnangagwa locked in a perpetual succession duel with Mujuru, the vice president has emerged as a leading contender in taking over from Mugabe — but insiders say the former was a distant number 14 in the perking order and was not even in the presidium.
The issue is said to have exploded in the politburo last Wednesday, where there was a reported showdown between Mujuru and Muchinguri — a key Mnangagwa loyalist.
Muchinguri reportedly asked Mujuru to respond to the allegations, causing a hue and cry.
An apoplectic Mujuru challenged anyone gunning for her post to do so.
Muchinguri last month tabled the nomination of Grace to take over as the Women League’s boss in a move reportedly meant to stymie
Mujuru’s takeover from Mugabe.
Some observers suspect Mugabe wants to hand over power to the First Lady, although most experts see this as politically impossible.
Matters came to a head in the politburo, when Muchinguri openly challenged Mujuru to also officially respond to electoral fraud allegations levelled against her from the Youth League elections.
Mujuru is said to have exploded during the hostile politburo meeting, chiding Muchinguri against reminding everyone that she campaigned to ensure she takes up the post of vice president amid resistance.
The vice president said that episode was over and challenged those looking to challenge her at congress to do so without prejudice.
“Don’t speak — go out and fight, then you will see,” Mujuru reportedly told her colleagues in the politburo after a heated exchange with Muchinguri, who she openly encouraged to field her challenge at the December congress.
“Now I say to other people, if they want to take the risk, then take the risk,” she said.
“That is good. And I am happy to fight. But if you take the risk you also have the chance to lose.”
Mujuru did not identify other potential rivals in the ballot scheduled for December, which will now be held by secret ballot, though she appeared to target Muchinguri.
Muchinguri was yesterday not taking calls from the Daily News.
But she has said her new post after relinquishing the Women’s League post would be given to her by Mugabe. She has stated that as a war veteran, she wanted a seat in the Zanu PF Central Committee.
If Muchinguri opts not to run against Mujuru, the Mnangagwa faction could field another candidate. Mujuru reportedly said she was not against criticism averring that if she would not be criticised, then she would have no value, according to insiders.
While Mujuru has her own faction of followers within the ruling party, but, ever since general Solomon Mujuru, her husband, died mysteriously in 2011, she has battled for primacy.
Tensions have been escalating since Muchinguri taunted Mujuru while welcoming delegates to the sixth Women’s League conference in Harare last month.
Muchinguri, who is the outgoing Women’s League boss, chanted a highly controversial slogan: “Pamberi neZanu PF, pamberi neWomen’s League, pasi nemadzimai ano pisira varume mudzimba! (Forward with Zanu PF, forward with the Women’s League, down with women who burn their husbands.”
The slogan was widely interpreted as a jibe at Mujuru.
A magistrate in a March 2012
inquest ruled out foul play in the
August 2011 death of retired army general Mujuru, a major player in the contest to succeed Mugabe.
Youths aligned to the Mnangagwa faction told Mugabe at State House three weeks ago that he must be wary of people surrounding him in the presidium, amid reports they were plotting to topple him.
In 2004, Mnangagwa and his allies were accused of plotting a “coup” in what is now known as the Tsholotsho debacle
The group, including other senior Zanu PF members mainly provincial chairpersons, unsuccessfully
campaigned to block Mujuru’s ascendancy to the vice presidency, with Mugabe taking strong disciplinary action against the bunch.
In the aftermath of that episode, Mnangagwa was relegated to manage a backwater ministry for Social Amenities and Rural Housing.
He was, however, rewarded after the bloody 2008 run-off poll, where he was Mugabe’s chief election agent. Mnangagwa is blamed for spearheading the vanquished party’s brutal campaigns as the de-facto leader of the Joint Operations Command.