Home » Governance » The Rise and Fall of Joice Mujuru

VICE-President Joice Mujuru’s political career is a story meant for fairytales. Born in Dotito communal area in the northern district of Mount Darwin, Mashonaland Central province, Mujuru rose to become the first woman vice-president of Zanu PF and the state through sheer determination spiced with luck.

Then semi-literate Mujuru left the country in her teens to join the liberation struggle in the mid-1970s and came back at independence a decorated and distinguished war veteran. She had defied her age to become a commander in the guerrilla war that forced the colonial Ian Smith Rhodesian government to negotiate for peace and independence.

After the 1980 elections won resoundingly by Robert Mugabe-led Zanu PF, Mujuru — still raw in terms of government experience — was thrown into the deep end as the youngest cabinet minister in the first post-independence administration.

She then could barely converse in English but was determined not only to serve her country, but also develop herself through academic qualifications. While heading a ministry by day and being a wife and mother at night, she managed to find time to study through correspondence.

Over the years she passed her Ordinary Levels, Aanced Level and recently graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Zimbabwe.

Mujuru’s academic progression is tied to her political ascendancy from provincial executive to central committee member. She further progressed to the politburo and presidium both at party and state level.

Her pinnacle was the 2004 Zanu PF congress where against all odds she was elevated to become the first vice-president of the party and subsequently state Vice-President.

Mugabe’s hand was visible in her elevation at the 2004 congress when he, at the eleventh hour, manipulated the party constitution to say one of the three members of the presidium should be a woman. Political analysts and commentators have argued that the amendments were done to deny Zanu PF legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa the opportunity to become the Vice-President and potential Mugabe successor despite him having then bagged eight provincial nominations.

Mugabe then even suggested that Mujuru could become the party leader in future when he rhetorically asked the congress if it wanted Mujuru to remain on that position or that she could aspire higher. Many then concluded Mugabe had chosen his heir apparent.

Other analysts however insist her rise was influenced by her late husband Retired General Solomon Mujuru. General Mujuru was the behind-the-scenes kingmaker in Zanu PF.

Mujuru was duly re-elected at the 2009 congress and it all but seemed that her ascendancy to the throne was sealed.

However, three months after the Youths and Women’s League conferences ahead of the 2014 congress, Mujuru’s fortunes changed dramatically. The architect of her demise was Mugabe’s wife, Grace.

The First Lady, with Mugabe’s complicity, has held nationwide rallies where she has attacked Mujuru labelling her as incompetent, corrupt and divisive. The attacks were vicious and personal. Grace even called on Mujuru to resign or face humiliation at the congress.

Since then Mujuru’s allies have been axed ahead of the congress. The allies include nine provincial chairpersons, several central committee members and several politburo members. Among these are Rugare Gumbo, Flora Buka, Ray Kaukonde, Jason Machaya, John Mvundura, Temba Mliswa and Kalisto Gwanetsa.

With three days before the 2014 congress commences, Mujuru seems down after she was blocked from filing her nomination to contest for the powerful central committee seat and the last minute amendments that allow Mugabe the right to appoint his own deputies and national chairman.

Political analysts argue that while Mujuru’s political end seems certain she may survive in the party but in a weakened position.

“For now Mujuru’s political currency is on the decline and she seems to be heading towards the door from the top table. However, Mugabe may keep her in the party but her position will be weakened,” Charles Chirimambowa said.

Another analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said, “Mujuru is now in a vulnerable position and her future now depends on Mugabe’s benevolence.”

The world is full of comebacks and Zimbabwe waits to see if Mujuru will have her own “Lazarus moment”.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard