HARARE – BELEAGURED Â Zimbabwean vice-president Joice Mujuru is now watching proceedings at the ongoing Zanu-PF congress from her Harare home, says sources close to the former liberation war fighter.
Mujuru, a former guerrilla with the nom de guerre “Spill Blood”, was not present at the meeting, Â at the Â ruling party congress that is meant to
anoint its leadership for the next five years.
A source close to Mujuru said she was watching the speech on television at her Harare home and would not be commenting.
Her only response during the three-month campaign against her by state media and Mugabe’s 49-year-old wife, Grace, has been a short written
statement in which she has denied allegations of corruption and plotting an assassination attempt.
Meanwhile Â president Robert Mugabe continued to Â purge Â his deputy , who only a fewt months ago was Â his most likely successor, denouncing
her before party loyalists as leader of a “treacherous cabal” bent on removing him from power.
In a thunderous speech to 12 Â 000 cadres of his Â party, Mugabe threatened to turn the law on Mujuru, whose status as presumed successor for
Africa’s oldest head of state has evaporated in the past three months since she became the target of attacks in state media.
“As we thought we were working together, they were doing their own thing, a cabal parallel to the party, planning their own future, planning
how to change the leadership, planning about kicking the president out of power,” Mugabe said.
His comments appear to end the future in the ruling party of Mujuru, seen by some in the Zimbabwean business community as a common-sense
leader who could have helped restore relations with the West that fell apart during the latter half of Mugabe’s 34 years in power.
Every time he mentioned 59-year-old’s name, the crowd crammed into a cavernous tent in a dusty field near Harare’s central business district
erupted into jeers and cackles.
“Those who are or were involved in corrupt activities, you are going to be prosecuted wherever we have enough evidence,” he continued in the
Shona language, accusing Mujuru of “gross corruption” in several gold and diamond mining deals.
He provided no evidence.
Despite his advanced years and rumours of cancer, Mugabe is running unchallenged as ZANU-PF leader. After his speech, Mugabe stood on the
podium decked out in a bright yellow jacket and baseball cap, swaying gently from side-to-side and clapping to the rhythm of a deafening jazz
Assuming he is still fit and able, he will be ZANU-PF’s leader when the next elections come round in 2018. -Reuters
With Mujuru gone, the succession race is more open.
Despite her political inexperience, Grace Mugabe is being elevated to the head of the powerful ZANU-PF Women’s League, giving her a seat on the party’s Politburo, its top decision-making body.
However, the one-time government typist faces an uphill struggle if she aims to succeed her husband, having played no part in the armed struggle in the 1970s against white rule in the former Rhodesia that is seen as confering legitimacy on senior ruling party figures.
Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a 64-year-old career Mugabe loyalist nicknamed “The Crocodile” is seen as a likely candidate to assume the mantle of future successor. (Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Peter Graff)