Briefly: General Solomon Mujuru

General Solomon Mujuru, who died in a fire at one of his homes on 15 August, was one of Zimbabwe's main power brokers, and husband of the vice-president. The 62-year-old's death is likely to intensify turmoil in Robert Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF, over who will succeed the president. His wife Joice Mujuru leads a powerful faction in the party and counted on the support of her husband, who commanded loyalty in the military after he led it following independence in 1980.

Born into the Zezuru clan on 1 May 1949, Mujuru was director of Mugabe's forces during the war of independence in the 1970s, serving under his nom de guerre, Rex Nhongo. Mujuru, along with Josiah Tongogara, led the forces when Mugabe was in jail. When Mugabe was released it was Mujuru who persuaded the guerrillas, most of whom had never met Mugabe, to accept him as their leader. "Mugabe owes Mujuru an eternal favour," one Zanu-PF insider said.

Mujuru retired to go into business and acquired an empire of farms, properties, mines and other interests that made him one of the wealthiest and most influential figures in Zanu-PF and its policy-making politburo, in which he was regarded as a moderate. In 2001 he was the subject of the first legal action against a member of Mugabe's inner circle for land-grabbing. His seizure of Alamein Farm was ruled illegal by the country's Supreme Court.

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