By William Muchayi
OPINION – The relentless onslaught on Joice Runaida Mujuru by Robert Mugabe and his wife together with the marauding wolves from the Emmerson Mnangagwa camp among other motives seeks to dehumanise the poor widow’s image and that of her late husband, Rex Nhongo (Solomon Mujuru).
Curiously, the response by the former Vice President to these vicious and barbaric attacks can best be described as measured if not muted, much to the astonishment of both friends and foes. Added to this mystery are feeble attempts by victims, Mujuru and Mutasa in particular, to exonerate Robert Mugabe, the claim being that the dictator is being misled by others, hence, desperate attempts to seek audience with him.
For, how can Teurai Ropa Nhongo, a renowned former freedom fighter be slaughtered on the alter like a sacrificial lamb in silence? This silence can best be explained in several ways.
Firstly, it could be a strategic manoeuvre on her part just for now, the calculation being that she stands a better chance of prevailing against all odds in the post-Mugabe era.
Based on this hypothesis, it implies that the poor widow hasn’t given up yet but has just postponed the fight for tomorrow in Mugabe’s absence, the assumption being that she outlives the dictator.
Or, alternatively, the poor widow’s silence could be a ploy to appease Mugabe premised on the flawed assumption that the barbed wire erected on her path to the throne is part of the rigorous exercise to gauge her resilience and strength as a future president of the republic.
It follows that Mnangagwa’s turn will follow soon and whoever weathers the storm will inherit the converted crown. With this in mind, it would be suicidal to challenge Mugabe and his mistress openly, hence, the silence that characterises the poor widow’s response to the abuse.
Or, could it be that Mujuru is scared of retaliation from Mugabe if she stands her ground? Indeed, both Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo got expelled from the party for challenging the incumbent openly, for, in Mugabe’s mindset, he is Zanu PF himself.
The former VP lost both her cabinet post and party position during the purges and can she afford to lose all her fortune which she has amassed over the past three decades only for the sack of challenging Mugabe?
In fact, repeated threats by Mnangagwa fanatics to seize farms belonging to purported Mujuru sympathisers is meant not only to decapitate the financial power base of the faction, but, also to send shivers down the former VP’s spine, the strategy being to toast her on the ropes before she even contemplates to be on the offensive.
Either way, Joice Mujuru is caught between a rock and blazing inferno, with little room to manoeuvre. Either, the poor widow can challenge Mugabe openly and risk the wrath of the dictator who will surely descend on her with the force of a tonne of steel or remain silent, thereby, losing her right to the throne.
Alternatively, Mujuru can be a victim of cultural forces that forbid the young to openly challenge their elders especially of Mugabe’s age. Isn’t it on record that the former VP has for long viewed Mugabe as a father figure since independence?
Is it a wonder that even after being sacked unceremoniously, she is still grateful towards Mugabe for his generosity towards her since independence?
On the other hand, some critics posit that Mujuru’s stoic silence is clear testimony of her acknowledgement of wrong doing, especially on corruption allegations which might be exposed if she openly challenges her nemesis.
Not only that, could it be that with the death of her husband, the former VP got exposed to vultures and is now defenceless to put up any meaningful fight, hence, the silence, for, she has no choice but to shut her mouth?
Given the above scenarios, it is worthy to dissect the perils of each strategy. The author is glad that at last, the former VP appears to have emerged from her dreams to realise that she has been used by the cunning Mugabe for too long.
In spite of Mujuru’s insistence that Mugabe is her father figure, it is worthy to note that she doesn’t seem to grasp the power dynamics that shaped this relationship since independence. Indeed, Mujuru has been naïve to believe that Mugabe loved her in the first place. What she fails to realise is that the nonagenarian ishiri inovaka dendere rayo neminhenga yedzimwe. In Ndau, anonzi munhu ane urimbwi.
Mugabe needed Joice Mujuru for his own personal and strategic interests and nothing else in the same way he used Simon Mzenda. Indeed, Mugabe needed Joice Mujuru as she became a pawn in a game of chess between him and the powerful Rex Nhongo.
At first Mugabe felt indebted to the Mujuru family for their instrumental role in making him acceptable to the ZANLA High Command in Mozambique despite his lack of military background. As a way to reciprocate this goodwill gesture, Joice Mujuru got roped in Mugabe’s cabinet since independence.
However, with time and Grace Mugabe’s entrance into active politics, this loyalty has faded and Solomon Mujuru’s disappearance from the matrix didn’t help the situation. Not only that, it was Mugabe’s fear of Solomon Mujuru and his desire to get the backing of the military that forced him to stick to the poor widow until now when Rex Nhongo is no more.
It is these strategic and personal interests as opposed to anything else that guided Mugabe’s relationship with the former VP which the latter mistook for genuine love. In addition, little did poor Joice realise that Mugabe used her to fend off the Mnangagwa onslaught in the same way Simon Muzenda was used as a shock absorber for the incumbent against Edison Zvobgo.
In fact, Mugabe’s love of Joice Mujuru was never premised on anything else except deception but regrettably, the former VP never realised this truth until now when it is too late. Moreover, it was in Mugabe’s personal and selfish interests to promote Joice Mujuru to give the false impression that he is a champion of gender equality which he isn’t.
Why didn’t Mugabe elevate a woman to replace Joice Mujuru as VP after the latter’s demotion but only to elevate Mnangagwa and Mphoko if the nonagenarian champions gender equality?
Given that Joice Mujuru’s silence is premised on the realisation that it is futile to confront the dictator head on, but, worthwhile to postpone the fight in the post-Mugabe era, how noble is this strategy? In as much as the strategy appears attractive on face value, it is extremely flawed in that by the time the poor widow emerges from hibernation in the post-Mugabe era, Mnangagwa and Grace would have consolidated the political space, leaving little room for her to manoeuvre.
At present, it appears as if it is Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo who speak on her behalf while she hides at her farm. This strategy by the former VP is risky as she may end up being deserted by die-hard supporters who will start to doubt her leadership credentials.
In the same way, it would be utter foolishness on her part to assume that her silence in spite of a barrage of attacks from enemies would be rewarded by Mugabe and Grace one day. That being said, it is worthy to realise that Mujuru, Mutasa and Gumbo are victims of a monster they helped nurture, protect and defend at the expense of millions of innocent Zimbabweans.
Did Joice Mujuru open her mouth in condemnation of the persecution of Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole, Morgan Tsvangirai and others?
It is regrettable that she was in fact an accomplice in this barbarism. The poor widow should have jumped ship when her husband perished in the mysterious fire rather than being pushed, for, the two incidences can’t be said to be unrelated.
William Muchayi is a pro-democracy and political analyst who can be contacted on [email protected]