Zimbabwe’s beleaguered vice-president Joice Mujuru defended herself on Monday against allegations that she masterminded a plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.
Dismissing the claims as “entirely untrue”, Mujuru said in a statement she was ready to defend herself against accusations of treason in a court of law. The allegations were contained in a report in the Sunday Mail, seen to be controlled by loyalists of Emmerson Mnangagwa, a top official in the ruling Zanu-PF.
The paper reported that Mugabe’s wife, Grace, accused Mujuru of being at the centre of a plot to assassinate the 90-year-old Zimbabwean leader.
Mnangagwa and Mujuru lead rival factions battling to seize control of the party – and the Zimbabwean government – as Mugabe edges towards possible retirement. Mnangagwa is believed to be behind Grace Mugabe’s political rise.
The minister was reportedly pushing for Mujuru to be sacked as vice-president at a Zanu-PF congress in December.
Grace has led a campaign against Mujuru in the past two months, with the apparent backing of Mnangagwa.
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Mujuru has remained silent until now, but when allegations that she plotted to assassinate Mugabe forced her to respond, she said. “While I personally believe silence is golden … I have been obliged to make this statement for and on behalf of all current and future national leaders who may face the same problems.”
“I regret that certain persons have elected to make false, unsubstantiated, malicious, defamatory and irresponsible statements about me … I stand ready to defend myself before the party and in any court of law on any of the allegations made against me.”
Mujuru’s husband, former army general Solomon Mujuru, was killed in a house fire in 2011 that many Zimbabweans believe was part of a power struggle within Zanu-PF.
“That is a straightforward treason case,” prominent Harare lawyer Jonathan Samkange was quoted in the Sunday Mail as saying. “The police should take action, arrest the accused and charge them with treason.”
The newspaper reported that former Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo was recorded making an assassination threat against Mugabe. The newspaper further claimed that ruling party official, Didymus Mutasa, suggested that Mugabe would be “shot” if he sided with Mnangagwa’s faction.
Both Gumbo and Mutasa are supporters of Mujuru. Mujuru was until this year one of the strongest contenders to succeed Mugabe, who has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
In July, however, the president’s 49-year-old wife was nominated to lead the ruling party’s women’s league, and she immediately launched a campaign to discredit Mujuru. – Sapa