Farirai Machivenyika and Felex Share Harare Bureau
FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe yesterday told Vice President Joice Mujuru to resign or risk being fired for extortion, corruption, abuse of office and undermining President Robert Mugabe.
The First Lady had throughout her ‘Meet The People’ tour in 10 provinces castigated a senior Zanu-PF official for fanning factionalism but yesterday said she was launching a “final push” for the ouster of the said official, whom she identified as Vice President Mujuru.
The First Lady, addressing thousands of war veterans and senior Zanu-PF officials who gathered at the Grace Mugabe Children’s Home in Mazowe to support her elevation to lead the Zanu-PF Women’s League, accused Cde Mujuru of hankering for the presidency that was out of her league of competence.
She revealed that she had played an instrumental role in Mujuru’s ascendency to the vice presidency at the expense of the secretary for legal affairs Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had the support of eight of the party’s 10 provinces in 2004.
The First Lady said VP Mujuru’s involvement in corruption, illicit deals and her unbridled love for power and money called for her voluntary resignation lest she faced the ignominy of being booted out.
“I’m saying to my colleague (VP Mujuru) that being fired is not good. VP Mujuru should resign. It’s good when I say take-over as Vice President, but when I say step down I become an enemy. I’m saying step down, we have had enough,” the First Lady said.
Turning to the prominent war veteran Cde Joseph Chinotimba, she joked: “Cde Chinotimba, you don’t look happy. There’s a vacancy here.”
Cde Mugabe said Cde Mujuru must save face and leave on her accord, or risk being pushed.
“In the final push, you need not quarrel. You just advise your colleague that you’ve failed, step down and rest,” she said.
“You’ve been allocated land, so go and concentrate on growing your tobacco because there’re many people that enjoy smoking. You can even grow other crops while looking after your grand children.
“If VP Mujuru was intelligent and God-fearing, she should not have done this. Today, we’re taking a position as we did in the past saying ‘please step down’. The time is up for you to rest so that those who’re capable can take Zimbabwe forward.”
She said Cde Mujuru was free to remain a member of Zanu-PF, but added that it was up to her to relinquish her membership if she so wished.
The First Lady said following recommendations that a women’s quota for leadership positions be reserved at the Zanu-PF Annual People’s Conference held in Masvingo in 2003, she recommended that Cde Mujuru be seconded to take up the vice president’s post.
She hailed Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mnangagwa for his humility after he agreed to step aside to ensure that Cde Mujuru took the vice presidency, despite himself being nominated for the post by the majority of provinces.
“Mnangagwa is someone whom we should respect,” she said. “He was voted by eight provinces that wanted him to be Vice President, but because of the quota system the President said, ‘Mnangagwa, you should stand aside for Mai Mujuru to be Vice President’.
“He [Mnangagwa] did that because he respects the President. If he was someone else, he would have refused saying, ‘I was voted by the people’, but he did an honourable thing and stepped aside.”
The First Lady said Cde Mujuru was ungrateful and started plotting against President Mugabe after she assumed her post.
“I’m the one who made her to be in that position she is in, and everyone knows that. She then became Vice President and I was genuinely happy that one of us women had been elevated to such a position,” she said.
“Later, she made a U-turn against me. I was surprised she no longer wanted to see us, speak to us. Instead of acquiring wisdom from President Mugabe, she was busy plotting against him so that she takes over.”
The First Lady said it was easy for the party to find a replacement for Cde Mujuru, whom she said had been piggybacking President Mugabe.
“It’s not a problem, this. We would have set precedence if we allow such things to happen, to allow an individual to grab power from President Mugabe, it’s a coup. So we’re saying we don’t want such things. A person should be loved by the people and the people should vote for the person and give her the power,” the First Lady went on.
“We’re aware that she does not work, all she does is wake up to go and see President Mugabe working and she returns home. She’s used to having someone working for her. I said those used to piggybacking President Mugabe, it’s over today.”
The First Lady reiterated that Cde Mujuru was heavily involved in the formation of the MDC and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, adding that the sympathy she was getting from the private media and opposition parties was an indication that she was one of their own.
She told the boisterous war veterans: “In 2008, there was a plot called ‘bhora musango’ spearheaded by Mujuru down to the lowest level. We lost elections with people being directed to vote for the MDC and not the President. In some instances, MPs were getting more votes than the President. If it wasn’t for the 50 plus one percent which Tsvangirai failed to garner, the revolutionary party could be history by now.”
The First Lady said she came face-to-face with factionalism when she visited Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces where hoodlums had been hired to disrupt her rallies.
“In Manicaland, they had organised people to embarrass me but I pretended as though there was nothing and went ahead to address the meeting. The plan was for people to say we don’t want the President’s wife,” she said.
“They had organised drunkards to disrupt the meeting. In Mashonaland Central, people were saying things were not in order, but I told them that they could not say that because I was the one who supported Mujuru [to be Vice President], so what’s wrong with me leading the Women’s League? What’s the problem?
“Ever since I was nominated to lead the women, she has not congratulated me. I finally lost it with her after realising that she was getting too far. I wasn’t mentioning her by name, but now it’s the moment of truth. In Mashonaland East, youths started making noise and the situation got worse as we were about to start proceedings.”
She commended the war veterans for the role they played during the liberation war, but took a swipe at people who exaggerated their exploits.
“Cde Mugabe said each of the war veterans played a part in the liberation struggle and each of them knew who he or she was operating with,” she said.
Boasting about downing a helictopter with a gun, she said in apparent reference to Cde Mujuru, was unnecessary self-praise.
She said since freedom fighters moved in groups, an intelligent person would let others praise her for the role she played as one risks being challenged if he or she praises herself.
She acknowledged the challenges that war veterans and their dependants were going through in their daily lives and pledged to work for the improvement of their plight.
She said it was an omission on the part of the government that war veterans were not prioritised in the various programmes that have been implemented such as land reform and the ongoing indigenisation and economic empowerment projects.