President Robert Mugabe’s former deputy Joice Mujuru says the southern African country’s strongman is not worried about factionalism in his ruling Zanu-PF party, as it helps him prolong his stay in power.
Mujuru, who served in the Mugabe administration since Zimbabwe’s attainment of independence from Britain in 1980, said that her former boss was a fan of “divide-and-rule” politics.
The ruling Zanu-PF party is currently divided into two distinct factions that are battling to succeed Mugabe, 93, when he eventually leaves office.
One camp calling itself “Team Lacoste” is led by one of Mugabe’s deputies, Emmerson Mnangagwa, while another cabal made up of Young Turks is pushing for First Lady Grace Mugabe’s ascendancy to the throne by torpedoing Mnangagwa’s ambitions.
However, both Mnangagwa and the First Lady have distanced themselves from the power dynamics saying they were all rallying behind the nonagenarian.
Mujuru, who was fired from both the Zimbabwean government and the country’s ruling party in 2014 for allegedly plotting to assassinate the veteran leader – a charge that she denies – said Mugabe thrived on the rifts within his party.
“He (Mugabe) enjoys that (factionalism). He survives on people fighting each other in the party and that’s what keeps him going. He is the biggest beneficiary of the infighting in his party so he loves it so much,” said Mujuru.
For his part, Mugabe, who has embarked on nationwide rallies to drum up support ahead of next year’s general elections, has urged the warring Zanu-PF factions to put aside their differences and focus on the 2018 plebiscite.
“We hear that there are some senior party officials holding some meetings at night denouncing other party leaders. Why, why, why? Please stop factionalism; it is not good for our party. Every party member must be loyal to the party not individuals,” said Mugabe at his last rally in the ancient city of Masvingo.
Meanwhile, Mujuru accused Mugabe of lacking the political will to deal with corruption that has reportedly affected most arms of his administration.
He just talks about corruption but he doesn’t do anything to stop it,” said Mujuru.
“If I am elected president of this country, I will ensure that corruption is nipped in the bud within my first 100 days in office. Dealing with corruption is the first thing that we need to do if we are serious about fixing the economy.”
This came at a time the broader opposition was proposing to form a grand coalition that would field a single candidate for the presidential election in order to increase the opposition’s chances of dislodging Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party from power. Mugabe has been endorsed as his party’s presidential candidate.
Mujuru told News24 that she was hopeful Mugabe would be kicked out of office come next year.
“Our people have suffered long enough and we cannot afford another democratic miscarriage come 2018. The power of collective ability will prevail this time around.”
Political analyst Philani Zamchiya recently said that the current political dynamics in the opposition could result in a situation where two opposition coalitions around Mujuru and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would be formed.
“If two opposition coalitions emerge, it would give Mugabe an added advantage during the polls but as we draw closer to the polls, one of the opposition coalitions would capitulate,” said Zamchiya.
Mujuru, who now leads the National People’s Party, has also signed another agreement with the shadowy Zimbabweans United for Democracy (Zunde) party.
Mujuru said she was ready to lead the coalition if Zimbabweans across the political divide asked her to lead.
“I was the acting president (when Mugabe was away) more than any other vice president. But what we need is broader consensus so that we have a leader who can bring people together and be able to deal with the problems that are affecting ordinary Zimbabweans,” said Mujuru.
The former vice president, who lost her husband – the country most decorated soldier – Retired Army General Solomon Mujuru in a mysterious fire at Alamaine Farm in Beatrice in August 2011, said despite some Zimbabweans suggesting that she re-marries if she wanted to be president, she was not ready to get married again.
“I do not have a boyfriend and I am happy living as a widow.