HARARE – Former Vice President and now leader of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), Joice Mujuru, has warned Zanu PF bigwigs with a penchant for throwing unprovoked brickbats at her that they must not mistake her dignified silence as a sign of cowardice.
Responding to the thuggish behaviour of her erstwhile Zanu PF colleagues via a statement that she released through her recently appointed spokesperson Gift Nyandoro, Mujuru — whose liberation struggle nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa — also promised to fight back with interest if the provocations continued.
Her protestations and threats to fight back follow her ongoing vilification by senior Zanu PF officials, including President Robert Mugabe, as well as the worsening harassment and intimidation of her supporters by ruling party apparatchiks around the country.
So bad have some of the insults and claims that have been directed at her, that in addition to being called a witch, she has also been accused of gross corruption while in high office and plotting to assassinate Mugabe — charges that are yet to be tested in court more than two years after they were first made.
Until yesterday, Mujuru had stoically resisted the temptation to respond to the litany of insults and serious charges that have been thrown her way.
In the statement, Nyandoro — who referred to Mujuru as Mother Zimbabwe — came out swinging, taking particular aim at war veterans’ chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa.
“Is it that Mutsvangwa and others in the party think that Mother Zimbabwe is a soft landing and who one can bully as he pleases? With respect, that is not the case. The humility and quietness that she exhibits is not cowardice, but a manifestation of her wisdom and resilience,” he said.
Nyandoro added that Mujuru was wondering why ruling party officials continued to attack her even after she had moved on and was now “leading a progressive political party that is clearly giving the regime sleepless nights”.
“On all the occasions of the attacks on Mother Zimbabwe they (Zanu PF officials) were never provoked nor did she reply in the hope that they would keep quiet. This she did as a sign of decency and reasonableness, but Mutsvangwa and others continue to be reckless canons.
“They should just leave Mujuru alone so that she can peacefully deliver Zimbabwe to the promised land of Canaan. Mother Zimbabwe is not responsible for the failure by Mugabe to account for the stolen $15 billion.
“She is not responsible for the reading of a wrong speech by Mugabe in Parliament. She is not responsible for the pronouncement by Mugabe that the MDC leader (Morgan Tsvangirai) won the 2008 elections by 75 percent.
“Mujuru is not responsible for the unconstitutional pronouncements by Mugabe that the army assisted Zanu PF during its election campaigns,” Nyandoro thundered.
He also warned all the Zanu PF factions that attacking Mujuru would not “guarantee” their respective preferred candidates in the ruling party’s brutal succession battle the right to take over from Mugabe.
And Mujuru, through Nyandoro, reminded Mutsvangwa that she was his senior and commander during the war, further pooh-poohing his recent claims that she had failed to protect women during the liberation struggle.
“We hope as ZPF that he has verifiable and independent evidence to support his malicious claim. This is the same Hatikure (Mutsvangwa’s middle name) who made promiscuous utterances to the effect that Mujuru did not down a helicopter on the 17th of February 1974.
“Surprisingly, the heroic act by Mujuru occurred before he joined the liberation struggle in 1975 and here is a person who sounds highly verbose and presents himself the ‘Rambo’ of the struggle,” Nyandoro said.
Mutsvangwa was also reminded that when Mujuru joined the liberation struggle as a young girl aged 18 years, he was “making frantic efforts to finish his education which he only abandoned at University level to join the liberation struggle in 1975, not out of the zeal to prosecute the war but because of the situation that had become difficult back home.
“By the time Mutsvangwa joined the liberation struggle, and by his own admission, Mujuru was the first woman he witnessed to have been trained and was his commander”.
Meanwhile, ZPF deputy spokesperson Kudzai Mbudzi says any leader within the new opposition party who thinks Mujuru is another “Mugabe in the making is hallucinating”.
In a broadside that appears to target ZPF founding fathers such as former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, Mbudzi said those who were of that inclination should go back to the warring ruling party.
He said some of his comrades did “not seem to fully understand the actual objectives of this new revolution, which is to create a just and democratic environment in which all can prosper”.
“Some want to transplant and transpose the old Zanu PF ethos onto the new party for personal glory and pleasurable plunder,” he charged.
“There are some people who are trying by all means to hold Mujuru hostage so that she glorifies their appointments into certain positions. If she resists those attempts on constitutional grounds, sometimes they overreact and become slow to visualise and internalise her long-term objectives.
“If some individuals would not circumstantially see reason to take a much deserved rest, we urge them to go through the mill at the national elective congress,” Mbudzi said.
Over the past few weeks, ZPF has been caught in a confusing vortex of infighting — with some of the party's founding members said to be so disgruntled that they were now mulling forming their own party.
However, others have pointed to Zanu PF as being at the centre of the chaos, ostensibly to neutralise ZPF before it properly takes off.
“We are different from Mugabe in word, deed and thought and can’t be seen trying to promote the same values of despotic individualism for which we are running away from Mugabeism in Zimbabwe People First party.
“Mujuru is not the one centre of power, but simply a brand. Our centre of power is the people,” Mbudzi said.