Joice Mujuru, previously a staunch ally of Robert Mugabe, has launched a broadside against the ageing Zimbabwean president days after she was reported to be setting up a rival party to challenge the governing Zanu-PF.
Ms Mujuru, who was sacked as Mr Mugabe’s vice president in December, is said to be preparing to stand against Mr Mugabe for the presidency in 2018. Despite the fact that he will be 94 by the time Zimbabweans next go to the polls, he has insisted that he will run.
The name of the new party, according to Zimbabwe’s Daily News, will also be Zanu-PF, but rather than PF standing for “Popular Front”, a reference to Zimbabwe’s independence struggle, Ms Mujuru’s splinter group will use the initials to mean “People First”.
The state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said Ms Mujuru was “plotting to unconstitutionally remove the president”.
Ms Mujuru is yet to comment directly, but another sacked cabinet minister, Didymus Mutasa said that she was a leader around whom Zimbabweans could rally. “There is no doubt that the person that will take Zimbabwe from the current political and economic mess is [Joice] Mujuru. The government has failed…”
She was formally expelled as a member of the original Zanu-PF last week, when the party’s ruling politburo found that she and her late husband, General Solomon Mujuru – a hero of the Zimbabwean independence movement – had tried to assassinate Mr Mugabe.
Robert Mugabe in pictures
Robert Mugabe in pictures
1/20 Mugabe celebrating his 89th birthday
He spent £400,000 on his celebrations. Mugabe and his supporters tucked into an 89kg cake and 89 cattle were presented to him from the country's central bank. A lot of his country are starving
2/20 Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe, 1976
3/20 Mugabe meeting Thatcher
Mugabe said he thought he could 'trust' Thatcher but didn't believe anything Tony Blair said
4/20 Robert Mugabe and David Lange
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Robert Mugabe (R) welcomes his New-Zealand's counterpart David Lange at Harare airport, 1985
5/20 Robert Mugabe and Indira Gandhi
Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the Summit of Non Aligned in New Delhi, 1983
6/20 Robert Mugabe receives the Hunger Project award
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe holds up the Hunger Project award as recipient of the Africa Prize for Leadership 15 September in New York, 1988
7/20 Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (L) is greeted in Havana by Cuban President Fidel Castro, 1992
8/20 Robert Mugabe and Bill Clinton
US President Bill Clinton points to items of interest on the White House grounds to President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe during his visit, 1995
9/20 On Blair's criticism
"So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe"
10/20 Robert Mugabe with his wife and Queen Elizabeth
Britain's Queen Elizabeth with President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his wife, pose for photographers after being the Queen's guest at Buckingham, 1997
11/20 Robert Mugabe with Nelson Mandela and Sam Nujoma
South African President Nelson Mandela (C) and his counterparts, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) and Namibia's Sam Nujoma (R), shake hands after a joint pressconference in Pretoria, 1999
12/20 Robert Mugabe prays
Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe prays at Harare Catholic cathedral church during a special requiem prayer for the late the country's founding father and liberation war hero Joshua Nkomo, 1999
13/20 Robert Mugabe and Idriss Deb
Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad (L) and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe attend a tree-planting ceremony on the African Union (AU) square in Ouagadougou, 2004
14/20 A controversial appearance on behalf of Nandos
Colonel Gaddafi sprays Robert Mugabe with water in the TV advert. His role in the spoof was played by a lookalike
15/20 On the West
"Countries such as the U.S. and Britain have taken it upon themselves to decide for us in the developing world, even to interfere in our domestic affairs and to bring about what they call regime change"
16/20 On voting
"Our votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer - its guarantor. The people's votes and the people's guns are always inseparable twins"
17/20 On food aid
"We are not hungry... Why foist this food upon us? We don't want to be choked. We have enough" 1.5 million people were starving in 2005, especially in the drought-stricken south. Food aid became politicised
18/20 On power
"It may be necessary to use methods other than constitutional ones"
19/20 Robert Mugabe with his family
Zimbabwes President Robert Mugabe (R) and his wife Grace (L) with their 24-year-old first-born child and only daughter Bona Mugabe (C) pose after the convocation at MDIS-University of Wales graduation ceremony in Singapore, 2013
20/20 Robert Mugabe votes
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) casts his vote by his wife Grace and daughter Bona (R) at a polling booth in a school in Harare, 2013
The former vice-president gave short shrift to the allegations. Ms Mujuru said that Mr Mugabe should devote less time to plots against his 35-year rule and more to reviving the country’s battered economy. “It’s a shame and surprising that the politburo spent long hours discussing me and less on the economy,” she said.
“It shows that they care less about the welfare of the people who voted them into power but more about protecting their positions. Given the prevailing economic hardships and looming food crisis, the [politburo’s] silence on these matters is deafening.”
The campaign against Ms Mujuru appears to have begun, with allies of Mr Mugabe making bizarre claims about her. On Wednesday the president of Zimbabwe’s tribal chiefs, Fortune Charumbira, told Zanu-PF supporters that droughts in the country were caused by Ms Mujuru practising witchcraft.
Ms Mujuru was the most senior woman politician in Zimbabwe’s ruling party, and draws significant support from among traditional Zanu-PF support. Seen as a moderating influence, she was earmarked as a potential successor to Mr Mugabe.
Emmerson Mnangagwa replaced Ms Mujuru as vice-president in December and is now considered to be in the box seat to assume the presidency after Mr Mugabe. A former head of Zimbabwe’s internal security force, and a former defence minister, Mr Mnangagwa is nicknamed “The Crocodile” because of his ruthlessness.
On a state visit to South Africa yesterday, Mr Mugabe appeared to quash growing speculation that his wife, 49-year-old Grace, could succeed him, although on same trip, Mrs Mugabe, who is the country’s minister for women, refused to rule out the move.
Reports in Zimbabwe have suggested that Ms Mugabe could be suffering from colon cancer, but she appeared to make light of the suggestion, joining South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma on the dance floor at the official dinner. “I’m dead” she joked. “I’m a corpse.”
The visit is Mr Mugabe’s first to Pretoria since 1994. Several Zimbabwean newspapers have suggested that the perilous state of the economy has forced the president to go with a “begging bowl”. Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa denied that officials were there to plead with their South African counterparts.
A law passed in Harare insists that foreign-backed subsidiaries operating in the country must be 51 per cent-owned by black Zimbabweans. It has been criticised for putting off foreign investors.Reuse content