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Joice Mujuru now flexing her muscles

By Patrice Makova and Nunurai Jena

As the Zanu PF succession dynamics continue to have twists and turns, Vice-President Joice Mujuru is now flexing her muscles as she consolidates power after the recent disbanding of party District Coordinating Committees (DCCs).

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) and the country's Vice President Joice Mujuru eat cake as they attend a rally marking Mugabe's 88th birthday in Mutare
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (R) and the country’s Vice President Joice Mujuru eat cake as they attend a rally marking Mugabe’s 88th birthday in Mutare

Information reaching The Standard shows Mujuru has become increasingly assertive in the party after President Mugabe appeared to have anointed her in the succession battle a week ago.

Mugabe is said to have told party national commissar, Webster Shamu during the recent Politburo meeting that the mess created during DCCs elections be resolved in line with a recommendation by Mujuru, which eventually led to the disbanding of the structures a few days later.

Mujuru had lost ground during the DCC elections as many of her loyalists had been thumped by those belonging to Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Sources said Mujuru emerged from the meeting emboldened and had begun touring the country to assert her authority and show that she was in control. When Mugabe was away, she was in Matabeleland North, where she officiated at a field day at Mines and Mining Development minister, Obert Mpofu’s Umguza constituency.

On Friday she was officiating at another field day in Shamu’s Chegutu East constituency. Mujuru was breathing fire as she spoke with an authoritative voice while condemning the imposition of candidates by powerful people in the party. She vowed that only grassroots people had the right to choose leaders of their choice.

In another move viewed by her rivals as an endorsement for her leadership, sources said Mugabe left Mujuru to chair cabinet on Monday when he went to Singapore for a medical checkup.

“The President (Mugabe) appears to have given Mujuru a vote of confidence by leaving her to chair cabinet,” said the source.

“Everyone was surprised because we expected the Prime Minister (Morgan Tsvangirai) to chair it by virtue of being the deputy chairman of cabinet. It is as if the President was saying to Mujuru, prove yourself and you will be my successor when the time comes.”

Another source said Mujuru was now exuding confidence following latest developments in the party. Last week, she used Mugabe’s absence to summon the party’s provincial chairpersons to Harare, where they were addressed by Shamu and other senior officials.

He said some of the provincial chairpersons loyal to the faction led by Mnangagwa were called to private meetings, where they were allegedly urged to support Mujuru.

One of them, John Mafa, was said to have been invited to Harare on Tuesday, where he was told to “play it safe” by aligning himself with powerful politicians in the province, among them, Local government, Rural and Urban Development minister, Ignatius Chombo and Shamu.

The source said it was interesting that Chombo and Shamu had fielded different candidates to contest Mafa for the chairman’s positions earlier this year and a possible alliance of the three would make them “strange bed fellows”.

“It is the olive branch extended to Mafa by Mujuru that has caused some anxious moments for Zanu PF members in the province,” the senior Zanu PF official said. “Mujuru is being accommodative and her plan is to lure the provincial chairperson, who backs Mnangagwa. If he agrees, he will then influence the rest of the provincial members to back her.”

Another source said a few provincial chairpersons loyal to Mnangagwa, particularly Mike Madiro of Manicaland, faced no confidence votes before provincial elections are held in September.

“The Mujuru faction is now manouvering to silence critics, as it now appears to be calling the shots after the dissolution of the DCCs,” said the source.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, refused to comment, saying people were interpreting events happening in the party in their own way. Mujuru could also not be reached for comment yesterday. Zimbabwe Standard