By Fortune Tazvida
HARARE- An investigation into the mysterious death of army General Solomon Mujuru has not only concluded that he was murdered but Nehanda Radio.com can exclusively reveal that fingers are being pointed at Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, General Constantine Chiwenga.
The 62 year old General Mujuru died in a fire in the early hours of Tuesday 15 August 2011 at his farmhouse in Beatrice, 60 km outside Harare. His death deeply divided Zanu PF because he led a faction that was locked in a fierce contest for influence with another camp led by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Nehanda Radio.com has now been told by a senior army officer, that there is even more serious infighting within the army over Mujuru’s death. This is because a secretly conducted investigation by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and police is accusing Chiwenga of killing Mujuru.
Its being alleged General Chiwenga is gunning to succeed President Robert Mugabe and is determined to eliminate anyone opposing his plans. According to the report Chiwenga is running a hit squad within Zanu PF and the army which is seeking to assassinate anyone that he views as an obstacle.
The first target of Chiwenga’s hit squad was Air Force Commander Air Marshall Perence Shiri. Both Shiri and Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Sibanda are heavily opposed to Chiwenga’s plans of succeeding Mugabe.
The high stakes drama began in December 2008 when Shiri survived an assassination attempt after he was shot and wounded in the arm on the way to his farm. Police said he was accosted by unknown people who shot at his car. When Shiri heard the gunshots, he got out thinking it was a puncture and was shot.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi immediately blamed MDC-T activists but strangely no one was arrested. Nehanda Radio.com has now been told Chiwenga ordered that hit. Shiri has been vigilant about his security since then and last year when Mujuru died, he is said to have ‘taken extra measures’ to protect himself.
It’s not clear whether Mugabe sanctioned Chiwenga’s operation but the recent promotion of Three Infantry Brigade Commander, Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, to Major-General by Mugabe, suggests he is on the same side as General Chiwenga.
Zanu PF insiders say although Mugabe is undecided on who should succeed him, there is growing evidence someone who could protect him from future prosecution for human rights abuses, like Chiwenga would be ideal.
We have also been told the infighting in the army is so vicious, Nyikayaramba’s posting at the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Headquarters in Harare, is not a coincidence. He is there to bolster Chiwenga’s campaign.
“If the infighting in the army escalates, Nyikayaramba will be close by to assist Chiwenga. His previous posting in Manicaland (Three Brigade) was considered too far from the action,” our source said.
Chiwenga is pushing his presidential ambitions aggressively. Last year he acquired a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of Zimbabwe. Chiwenga, described by his subordinates as “knowing very little” about the military, went public with his achievement, taking out an ad in the Sunday Mail.
Chiwenga is already nicknamed Zim2, another way of saying he is second in command after Mugabe. The registration number for Mugabe’s official armour-plated limousine is Zim1, so Zim2 is a play on that. Not only are Chiwenga’s presidential ambitions being resisted in Zanu PF, its worse in the army.
Leaked US diplomatic cables showed that Chiwenga is not respected in the army. During a January 5 and 6, 2010 meeting with US ambassador Charles Ray, Brigadier General Herbert Chingono, the Inspector General for the Zimbabwe National Army, and Major General Fidelis Satuku, the ZDF Director General for Policy and Personnel described Chiwenga as an ignoramus.
“General Constantine Chiwenga is a political general who works hard, but who has very little practical military experience or expertise. Given a choice between a military and a political issue, Chiwenga will always choose the political, because he doesn’t know enough about the military to be comfortable discussing it,” the cable reads.
At the end of last year Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba confirmed that he was working closely with hardliners, who include army generals, to manage President Robert Mugabe ahead of elections envisaged for 2012.
Impeccable sources in the politburo told the weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that the military was setting up parallel structures so as to take over the day-to-day running of government. General Constantine Chiwenga was reportedly behind the establishment of the parallel structures.
Mugabe spokesman was also regularly seen visiting Chiwenga at Defence House. “I have no apologies to make about being at Defence House, or at the PGHQ (Police Headquarters) or (the army’s) KG6 — these are the structures I work for,” Charamba fired back.
It was also claimed that “the military’s plans have advanced to the extent that they are now intercepting speeches approved by Mugabe and exchanging them with alternative speeches prepared at Defence House.” Sources who spoke to the paper said this was a direct order from Chiwenga.
An inquest into Mujuru’s death is due to begin on Monday at the Harare Magistrates’ Court and expected to end on Friday. Nehanda Radio.com has been told “this is nothing but a sham exercise meant to divert the nation’s attention. Everyone in the security forces knows Chiwenga killed Mujuru.”
“The police also know who killed Mujuru but no one has the guts to take Chiwenga and Mugabe head on, on this matter. By throwing this case to the courts for an inquest, its another way for the police to wash their hands off the matter. Everyone in the security forces knows the courts will do absolutely nothing.”
“The reluctance to make the police report public, tells you everything you need to know. The public don’t know what’s in the report but most senior people in the security forces know what’s inside,” another source told us.
So why did Mugabe sanction the assassination?
Relations between Mugabe and Mujuru were strained. The former guerrilla leader was the only remaining official able to openly challenge Mugabe in high level meetings. Mujuru’s faction also tried but failed to remove Mugabe as the Zanu PF candidate at the party’s extraordinary congress in December 2007.
Mujuru’s second in command during the liberation war, Wilfred Mhanda last year called for a commission of enquiry into Mujuru’s death saying he was “quite shocked and touched by his death and actually surprised that President Mugabe didn’t come out openly to say it is suspicious.”
Speaking to SW Radio Africa, Mhanda said “Any person who has listened to the story, who has read the papers, clearly can come to no other conclusion except that there was naked foul play and why the President could not come out clearly about that and announce the establishment of a commission of enquiry baffles the mind.”
Mhanda said he believed Mujuru’s death benefited Mugabe more than anyone else. Mujuru “as many people have testified including Dumiso Dabengwa was the only one in the current politburo who could speak out to Mugabe. No one now is prepared to do this,” Mhanda added.
Last year Vice President Joice Mujuru publicly spoke out about the suspicious nature of her husband’s death. Speaking to members of a women’s football team Mrs Mujuru said she believed her husband could have escaped the fire:
“The problem is we just hear its fire. But what happened from 8.30pm to when the fire was seen? That’s where the story is. I was called just after 2am and told that the house is on fire. The roof had collapsed, but that doesn’t happen instantly.
“It means the fire had started around that time when he got home on Monday night. That should be the time when people should start, you know, whatever they want to look at because we can’t just start when the roof has collapsed.”
Mrs. Mujuru also questioned why her husband opted to run for the door of the 14-roomed house, when he could have used the bedroom window instead. “The (bedroom) set up had two western big windows, so if you want to come out you just jump. Our little kids used to jump and we used to laugh about it. It was closer to come out through the window than the door,” she said.
“I suppose if they were to give us something satisfying it would make my heart rest. We are anxiously waiting for the police to finish their investigations. They have invited all the experts they could find to look at what could have happened,” Mrs Mujuru added.
That investigation has been completed and the report is not being made public.
Rumblings of discontent also came from Mujuru’s 69 year old elder brother Joel Tazviwinga Mujuru who suggested a lot is being kept from the public. Joel has already said he is not happy with the police investigation and the way senior ZANU PF officials are ignoring the matter.
Joel said all indications were that Mujuru was murdered and “he vowed to leave no stone unturned in unravelling the mystery behind the death. Solomon was unable to go back to his vehicle where he left his phone, groceries and documents. It was not possible for him to leave his phone in the vehicle and go to sleep.”
“Secondly, I did not hear that the car keys were found. Solomon could have escaped through the window if it was a genuine fire. Where he died and where his bedroom was there was some distance.”
“Solomon could have been burnt on the bed, not where he was found dead. The fire was coming from the other side going to his bedroom, but Solomon died where the fire was coming from. All this gives me unanswered questions,” Joel said. Nehanda Radio.com
To help maintain editorial independence Nehanda Radio relies on donations from readers like you. No donation is too small or too big. Help by donating to fund our operations.