Home » Governance » Why the Opposition Loves Dr Mujuru [column]

LAST week NewsDay carried yet another sympathetic column depicting Dr Mujuru as a vulnerable innocent and demanding she be left alone. For a newspaper that was only recently agitating for her resignation over her remarks in defence of corruption (February 2014) this is certainly a remarkable change of heart.

But this newspaper is not alone.

Mujuru’s stock has been steadily rising within opposition circles, with the MDCs growing so fond of her to the point of bickering over her political hand in marriage. A few days ago Obert Gutu was quoted discouraging Mujuru from forming an alliance with Biti’s Renewal Team.

“Why would Joice Mujuru want to associate herself with a ragtag grouping of failed and unpopular politicians?” he asked.

This is equally surprising because in February of 2014 the then MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora was rather loud in his denunciation of the same woman, describing her as a national menace and economic saboteur.

“The utterances by Dr Mujuru are calculated to threaten the Press from reporting on corruption by Zanu-PF officials. It is a fact that these economic saboteurs who have been bleeding the country dry by awarding themselves obscene salaries and benefits are well-known members of Zanu-PF. We suspect that most of them are from the Mujuru faction. . . ” Mwonzora was quoted in the press as saying.

The objective political question is why the opposition and its functionaries took sides in Zanu-PF’s factional battles, preferring to throw their weight behind the former VP? Why have they suddenly forgiven Mujuru’s alleged transgressions? What has caused them to fall in love with this otherwise unremarkable woman?

It is worthwhile noting that Mujuru has not expressed an ideological or policy position. She has not released a manifesto laying out the direction she seeks to take the country if at all she has such ambitions. If she had come out in this way one could at least assume that shared values are behind this unlikely friendship.

Some believe Dr Mujuru enjoys grassroots support and thus backing her is a necessary expediency on the part of the opposition which is hoping to form a coalition. This is an unsatisfactory explanation because the opposition started backing Mujuru way before she was expelled from Zanu-PF. At that time there was no prospect of forming a coalition and as such this could not be the basis on which the opposition lent its support.

The opposition was supporting Mujuru in a factional fight because it, for some reason, preferred her at the helm of Zanu-PF.

The question is why. Why is the opposition comfortable with a Zanu-PF led by Dr Mujuru?

In any case this unsubstantiated grassroots argument has been repeated so often as to be elevated to fact. At one point we were told that Dr Mujuru was fed up and readying to dislodge Mugabe through a vote of no confidence and that she had over a hundred Zanu-PF MPs in tow ready to vote at her command. Curiously, no list of these supposed Mujuru MPs has ever been produced.

However, it would be dishonest to claim that Mujuru had no power whatsoever. She had power but that influence never derived from an enduring source such as political ability or administrative skill. Many of those that joined her faction did so not because they were dazzled by her capacity to lead but because they wrongly assumed she was the next in line and as such their political bread was best buttered by pledging allegiance to her. This is why some of her loyalists should be forgiven, many of these allegiances were of a cheap opportunistic variety and not based on any serious ideological leaning.

Coming back to why the opposition wanted Dr Mujuru to emerge as Zanu-PF’s next leader. For some reason Mujuru has always been perceived as weak, cuddly and less wily naturally, this made her a preferable opponent.

Those often referred to as hardliners include the likes of Saviour Kasukuwere (nicknamed Tyson), security chiefs like Constantine Chiwenga and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has earned the menacing sobriquet The Crocodile (the actual origin of these nicknames is slightly disappointing, Kasukuwere was termed Tyson for his abilities in the decidedly peaceful game of darts while the Vice President was merely part of the Crocodile Group during the armed struggle).

The perception within opposition ranks is that these hardliners are likely to carry forward Mugabe’s policies without compromise and will not yield to external pressure. This is a problem since the opposition has always recognised that they can only extract concessions from Zanu-PF on the back of external diplomatic pressure.

In Dr Mujuru the opposition sees a potentially weaker Zanu-PF from which it would be easier to wrest power. The manner in which she was so easily neutralised in the run up to the December congress demonstrates the extent of her vulnerability. This is why they love her. Their willingness to join hands in a coalition is because they do not view her as a threat, they do not believe she is clever enough to outsmart them.

The idea that the opposition is rallying behind Dr Mujuru because she is a great economic thinker or an able leader is clearly absurd. There is nothing in her record to demonstrate any such thinking or ability.

This attempt to dress Dr Mujuru in saintly robes demonstrates a worrying duplicity. It is okay for the opposition to disagree with Zanu-PF but the public must be very worried when the opposition suddenly, and without explanation, decides that a woman it once attacked as the mother of all corruption is now somehow a blameless innocent.


Source : The Herald