via Solomon haunted in grave – DailyNews Live 30 October 2014 by Gift Phiri
HARARE – As the Zanu PF politburo meets today, President Robert Mugabe faces the unenviable task of being forced to choose between his demanding wife Grace and his historically close relationship with the late liberation war hero Solomon Mujuru and his embattled widow, Joice.
As well as being Zimbabwe’s first black military commander, Rex Nhongo, as Solomon Mujuru was popularly known during the liberation war, played a central role in Mugabe’s difficult rise to the leadership of Zanu PF in the mid 1970s.
Solomon’s charred remains were found after a mysterious fire at his Beatrice farm, just outside Harare, in August 2011, while his widow, Joice — who Grace wants sacked — has been Mugabe’s party and government deputy since 2004.
But toppling the popular VP — a decorated liberation war heroine in her own right — as Mugabe’s wife has been demanding publicly over the past few weeks, may prove to be a Herculean task given the extent of Mujuru’s support base both inside and outside Zanu PF, as well as the dynamics of the party’s seemingly intractable factional and succession wars.
Analysts say were Mugabe to grant his hot-tempered wife her wishes, he may have to resort to underhand manipulation of the Zanu PF constitution to have any chance of dethroning “Teurai Ropa Nhongo”, Joice’s war nom de guerre — who has until now been most pundits’ and party supporters’ leading lieutenant to succeed Mugabe.
Speaking at a luncheon for legislators on Tuesday, an angry Mugabe was at pains to straddle a middle of the road path as he rallied his forces to close ranks and to maintain the status quo in the party’s presidium — a stance that appeared to fly in the face of the hostile drive by his wife to oust Mujuru and her own close lieutenants.
Zanu PF veterans all agree that her husband Solomon was the kingmaker who worked very hard to persuade freedom fighters in Mozambique at the height of the liberation struggle to accept Mugabe, a civilian, as the leader of the Zanla rebel forces after his release from a 10-year detention in the mid 1970s.
At independence in 1980, and following the much-debated death of Josiah Magama Tongogara in a mysterious accident on the eve of independence, Mujuru took over the command of the army as Lieutenant-General, before retiring and going into business 10 years later, and ensuring a few years later that his wife took the reins as both Zanu PF and State vice president.
Despite his chequered business life, Rex’s burial at Heroes Acre, following his inexplicable death in 2011, attracted the single biggest crowd ever witnessed at the national shrine since independence in 1980 — which was a stark reminder even in death of his enduring popularity and peerless war credentials.
However, analysts say his death has left his wife politically-vulnerable in the shark-infested Zanu PF waters where principle, service and history often count for very little.
“Some war is going on in my party, people want positions, they want even to push senior people out,” Mugabe himself said on Tuesday.
Key figures in a rival faction allegedly led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, and lately fronted by Grace, have in recent weeks cast aspersions on Solomon’s 59-year-old widow, trashing not just her war contribution, but also maliciously painting her as corrupt and inept, among other mendacious accusations.
“Mrs Mujuru must resign now. She wants to use money to topple Mugabe,” Grace said while addres addressing war collaborators and youths at her Mazowe business hub a week ago.
A close Mujuru family ally, who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing victimisation, told the Daily News yesterday: “I am upset and I would dearly like to protect our mother and father’s reputations from the many lies and fabrications that are being peddled by their enemies.
“It also seems that when somebody dies, people can say whatever they like. Make no mistake, the attack is aimed at our father’s (Rex’s) legacy and business interests, although it’s coming across as an attack on Amai VaChido (Joice). To attack a man like that who contributed so much but is now dead and cannot defend himself and his legacy is despicable.”
A politburo member who also declined to be identified given Zanu PF’s ugly factionalism added: “I don’t know why they (Mujuru’s opponents) would want to make such sensational claims when they are just not true.
“The suggestion that our mother is corrupt and creaming off diamonds is particularly upsetting and utterly dishonest because that mining venture was closed a long time ago. We may well have to take action over this”.
Mujuru herself has chosen to keep her counsel in the face of the scurrilous allegations by Mugabe’s wife and others targeted at her, insisting that she remains loyal to Mugabe.
Another source branded the current assault on her as a “cynical, power-grabbing exercise” adding, “This is nothing more than crass propaganda, aired ad nausuem by the State media. Sadly, a few Zimbabweans may actually end up thinking that this false narrative is the truth. That is plain wrong”.
Wesley Mwatwara, a War and Strategic Studies lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said yesterday: “This is a power wrangle. All players are using any ammunition in their quiver …What we are (also) having are business clashes, personality clashes, the VP and first family”.
He added that as the leader of the Women’s League, if Grace is enthroned at the December congress, she was likely to be given a Cabinet post, possibly that of minister of Women’s Affairs in an impending Cabinet reshuffle. If the VP was not removed, the situation in Cabinet would be untenable.
“Those women can’t work together, one of them will have to fall by the way side,” Mwatwara said. “I can’t say who will succeed. But everything is stacked against the VP at the moment.”