Former vice president and now Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader, Joice Mujuru, has for the first time publicly claimed that President Robert Mugabe knows how her husband, General Solomon Mujuru, died in an inferno at the family’s Beatrice farm in August 2011 — as mystery continues to surround the death of the country’s first black army commander on the outskirts of Harare.
Speaking in an interview with South Africa-based television station eNCA yesterday, Mujuru said her brutal purge from Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF in 2014, as well as the nonagenarian’s “uncalled for” pronouncements in the aftermath of Solomon’s death had given her good reasons to believe that Mugabe knew how her revered husband had died.
“With what has happened to me, the pronouncements that Mugabe has said himself which were uncalled for, which were unsolicited … have given me a lot of thought that he cannot tell me that he is not aware of what happened to my husband. Because you can even witness his facial expressions when he is talking about it and you say to yourself time will tell.
“Of course, with what he (Mugabe) has said, can he excuse himself, can he really absolve himself from that and why did he mention those things in the first place?” she said.
Mujuru’s sensational claims — which come after her equally pointed comments during her visit to the United Kingdom in October, where she suggested that Rex may have been killed by the couple’s Zanu PF enemies to pave the way for her ouster from government — are likely to put the warring ruling party into further turmoil, where she still has a significant following.
Mujuru was hounded out of Zanu PF together with other bigwigs in the run-up to the ruling party’s sham December 2014 congress, on untested allegations of seeking to topple and assassinate Mugabe.
She told eNCA yesterday that her husband’s death appeared to have been planned, as had been revealed by subsequent events following her expulsion from Zanu PF — all of which had re-enforced her suspicions that Rex was killed to pave the way for her ouster.
“After his death what happened to me … only to discover that his (Mugabe’s) team which he gathered and drummed support for helped him oust me.
“It is now coming in the open … telling the nation that even the G40 (the Zanu PF faction opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe) that is fighting Lacoste (the Mnangagwa faction) that it’s him who is behind them,” Mujuru said.
Speaking during her visit to the UK in October, Mujuru had also suggested that Rex had been killed to remove any obstacles to her ouster from Zanu PF.
“How did my husband lose his life, because that is still a big question … would this be the reason (her ruthless purging from Zanu PF) my husband died in this mysterious way? They wanted to attack me when I had nobody closer to me to see what was going to happen to me.
“I said to myself who is dependent on me, my family, immediate family, children, grandchildren, my mother. I still have a living mother, and I said rather than I continue fighting these people let me keep quiet.
“But I will tell Mugabe I will leave him, which I did on the 1st of December 2014.
“When he wrote around December 14, 15 that I have removed you from Zanu PF, it was an aftermath. I had already bid him farewell,” Mujuru said of her hounding out of the ruling party and the many untested claims that were flung her way, including the grave allegations of plotting to assassinate the nonagenarian.
Rex, as Solomon Mujuru was popularly known — and who is credited with playing a major role in catapulting Mugabe to the leadership of the ruling party in the mid 1970s — died in a mysterious fire at his Beatrice farmhouse, just outside Harare, in August 2011.
An inquest into his death proved both inconclusive and controversial, with his family and political associates rejecting outright the official narrative that he had died from a fire that had been started by a candle.
Since Mujuru was sacked from Zanu PF, together with other disaffected senior party officials who include the ruling party’s former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and its spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, Mugabe and his lieutenants have savaged her relentlessly and also sought to tar the legacy of her revered late husband.
In August this year, on the exact fifth anniversary of Rex’s death, lapdog State media launched a shocking propaganda blitzkrieg on him — which only served to re-ignite questions surrounding his contested death.
They claimed he had held several meetings with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai where the parties had allegedly agreed on a plot to take over power from Mugabe.
“It is understood that the project had the backing of Western countries who felt that MDC-T needed someone with liberation war credentials to enhance its power bid against president Mugabe.
“Even at the funeral of general (Mujuru), we had a very awkward situation where MDC-T people were part and parcel of the mourners which is quite unusual.
“That stemmed from the interaction that was taking place behind the scenes involving the general or some of his aides and … Tsvangirai but also underpinned with Western interests,” the unashamedly pro-Zanu PF State media said.
But the savage propaganda blitzkrieg appeared to backfire spectacularly with analysts, liberation struggle stalwarts, disaffected Zanu PF bigwigs and opposition parties saying this raised questions about the late general’s contested death.
Mutasa told the Daily News at the time that the attacks strongly suggested that there was “more to Solomon’s death than the official version indicated”.
“I think the current government’s officials who are responsible for security should tell us what really happened to Solomon.
“Officials such as those in the Central Intelligence Organisation should tell us everything because it is only fair for everyone if they do that,” he said.
Interestingly too, Zanu PF politburo member and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo appeared to take umbrage with the State media’s crass attacks on the late general at the time.
“Gen Mujuru’s role in union exposed as Tsvangirai-Mujuru go public. But in Africa wafa wanaka (In Africa we don’t insult the dead)! Let’s expose … Mujuru in her own right. Gen Mujuru is not here to explain himself!” said Moyo on micro-blogging site Twitter.
On its part, Tsvangirai’s MDC said the wheels of a grand coalition were in motion and “no amount of propaganda” would get in the way of the pending electoral pact.
“There was absolutely nothing wrong with MDC officials attending Solomon’s funeral as State media are saying. Even on a personal level, from the time that I was a young boy, I used to idolise Josiah Tongogara and Rex Nhongo.
“I actually feel very proud that I attended his burial at the national Heroes Acre. Rex Nhongo was a revolutionary icon and no amount of hostile and puerile propaganda by the Zanu PF-controlled media can take that away from him.
“The Zanu PF regime will soon be receiving the shock of their lives. It is fractured in more places than one and it’s just a matter of time before this beleaguered and bankrupt regime crumbles,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
Mujuru herself told the Daily News through her spokesperson Gift Nyandoro that it was “disrespectful to her family and all well-meaning Zimbabweans” that Zanu PF would want to discredit her husband when there were still many unanswered questions regarding his death.
“The question of interrogating and unravelling what happened to the late general is not a one day event but is a process.
“We believe that soon we will find the answers. However, Mai Mujuru is a person with a forgiving heart and she has made it clear that she will not seek revenge, even though the killers will be revealed in time,” Nyandoro said. Daily News