HARARE- President Robert Mugabe and the late Retired General Solomon Mujuru did not see eye-to-eye in the period leading to the March 2008 harmonised elections with Zanu PF insiders saying the two’s “estrangement was permanent”.
Mujuru died in a mysterious fire at his farmhouse at his Ruzambu Farm near Beatrice, some 60km south of the capital, Harare.
Recently at a memorial service for the late general, Mugabe said he was still puzzled by how Mujuru had died in the inferno considering his military training and his alertness. He said Mujuru had survived other fires before.
But in a US cable leaked recently by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, sources within Zanu PF told then US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, that although 15 days before the March 2008 election Mujuru failed to come out publicly to oppose Mugabe, “their estrangement was permanent”.
The sources said Mujuru believed Mugabe would lose the election and, in not voicing his opposition openly, was hedging his bets in case Mugabe survived the election, in which case the general would actively oppose Mugabe from within.
The WikiLeaks cable also says Mujuru pledged to support Movement for Democratic Change presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai if Mugabe tried to steal the 2008 elections.
In the same cable released in August last year, Tsvangirai told McGee that he had spoken to Mujuru who had since realised that support for Simba Makoni was thin and it was better to support Tsvangirai as an alternative to Mugabe.
Makoni — then a Zanu PF politburo member and former Finance minister — had just formed the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn movement to stand against his erstwhile boss Mugabe and Tsvangirai in the 2008 presidential election. It was widely speculated that Mavambo was a Mujuru project to end Mugabe’s political career.
Mujuru still insisted that it was time for Mugabe to go and as soon as possible, the sources told the US envoy.
The sources said opposition to Mugabe was “as strong as it has ever been”. They said most notable was the strong opposition from within the party and from erstwhile comrades-in-arms such as Mujuru. They said the election and post-election period “could play out in ways that are not now obvious”.
Recent reports in the media said a Zanu PF politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu had told another US envoy that Mugabe “feared” Mujuru because he was the only one who could stand up to him and ask him when he would retire.
Ndlovu was quoted by WikiLeaks as telling a US diplomat in Harare, Joseph Sullivan: “Mugabe respects and fears Mujuru. Mujuru is also now independently wealthy, which gives him freedom for manoeuvre that those whose livelihoods depend on the ruling party do not have.”
What McGee wired to Washington DC
McGee said in the cable, “An associate of Solomon Mujuru told us he spoke for Mujuru and most members of the party’s Central Committee and Politburo when he said it was time for Mugabe to go — as soon as possible. Mujuru realised that Makoni’s support was thin; he would support Tsvangirai as an alternative to Mugabe.”
He said Tsvangirai enjoyed continued and growing support throughout the country. “In the rural areas, many people who previously voted for Zanu PF are fed up; most of these will vote for Tsvangirai. Equally important is strong antipathy toward Mugabe from within the ruling party.”
As it turned out, Tsvangirai won the presidential election, but with insufficient numbers to take up power. The subsequent run-off was marred by unprecedented violence spearheaded by the military. Tsvangirai says 200 of his supporters were murdered. Zimbabwe Standard
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