HARARE – Vice President Joice Mujuru has revealed she avoided making public appearances when she was appointed minister in 1980 because she could not speak fluent English.
She told a 2013 Zimtrade Annual Exporters’ Conference in Harare yesterday that former Midlands governor Cephas Msipa did almost all the work including reading speeches on her behalf even when she was present, after being appointed Youth, Sports and Recreation minister in 1980.
Mujuru, the youngest minister ever appointed in the country and known by her nom-de-guerre Teurai Ropa during the Rhodesian bush war described the queen’s language as awkward.
“I want to thank sekuru Msipa for mentoring me well when I became the youngest minister in the government of the day.
“He helped me become who I am because I used to send him to speak on my behalf at big gatherings as I was not used to that.
“This was not because I was busy, but because I was not able to speak this awkward language (English) I am using now,” Mujuru said, now a proud holder of a Masters’ degree.
Born in the North-eastern district of Mt Darwin, Mujuru joined the liberation struggle after just completing two years of her secondary education.
As vice president of both the country and the ruling Zanu PF party, Mujuru is considered to be the likely successor to President Robert Mugabe for both the party and national leadership.
She told delegates the conference’s theme “Value Chain Business Models —The Key to Export Competitiveness” was well-timed as it resonates with the national policy that emphasises capacitating the country’s manufacturing sector.
Mujuru bemoaned the “influx of substandard products” on the market and urged local business to be proactive to ensure the country’s exports are improved.
“Government is concerned with the current trends where the country’s capacity utilisation has dropped to 39 percent from 44,9 percent in 2012 and 57,2 in 2011.
“We were shocked in Cabinet when it was revealed that there were more beer-halls at most growth points than the manufacturing sector.
“What was more saddening is the fact that the majority of the patrons at these bottle stores are our young men and women.
“It shows there is lack of innovation because these areas must be our last places to be after a good day’s work to feed our families,” she said.
The former freedom fighter said government had at Cabinet level, discussed the need to take a look into the pricing system of basic commodities.
Mujuru said there was need for a change of mindset in the retail sector which she said was still stuck in the pre-multi-currency regime which led them to hike prices unnecessarily.
“Our mentality is still in the Zimbabwe dollar era. There is need to realise that what we are now using is real currency, hard currency so we need to make sure our pricing system recognises that fact,” she said.