HARARE, Dec 5 — In a sign that her political career is coming to a rude end, Zimbabwean Vice-President Joice Mujuru was absent from Thursday’s official opening of the ruling Zanu-PF party’s Sixth National People’s Congress, a fourth major party event she has skipped in the face of growing calls for her ouster.

Elevated to the second most powerful position at the party’s Congress in 2004, VP Mujuru was seen as one of the possible candidates to take over from President Robert Mugabe but in an unexpected turn of events, she has been accused of plotting to overthrow Mugabe, a development that the Head of State has confirmed, in weeks leading to the congress.

Mujuru was for the fourth time in a row absent from a crucial Zanu-PF meeting, having absented herself from two Politburo meetings in the last two weeks, as well as the central committee on Wednesday. A top Mujuru ally, Didymus Mutasa, who is Zanu-PF’s secretary for administration, also did not attend Thursday’s official opening of the congress.

The party’s national chairman, Simon Khaya Moyo, had to take over the role of Mutasa to ensure smooth running of proceedings.

Addressing the delegates, President Mugabe reiterated that a Mujuru plot to oust him had been unearthed, but said the Vice President and her lieutenants had not been barred from attending the party congress.
“I must say with a deep sense of sorrow we have not done to you what we should have done, we have not behaved in a manner in which we should have behaved, manner that was exemplary, manner that showed we were united, manner that showed we all were working for the party in order to achieve the objectives of the party. Some of us failed us, some of us failed you,” President Mugabe told more than 10,000 delegates.

“As we thought we were working together, they (Mujuru) were doing their own thing, a cabal parallel to the party. They were planning their own future, planning how they could change the leadership of the party, planning about kicking the President out of power.”

President Mugabe told the congress that intelligence had been gathered that senior party officials, including party provincial chairmen and ministers, were holding secret meetings to strategize on how to take over Zanu-PF but their plans had been foiled.

“You can see some of us are not here at the top table, we did not chase them away, we did not say to them do not attend congress, we actually wanted them to come for you to see them and listen to what they have to say. They just vanished without even telling us why they are absent. That is how thieves behave,” President Mugabe said.

He chided Mujuru for being “power-hungry to the extent of planning to kill someone so that you take over”.

President Mugabe said the era of the inclusive government in which the country’s top political parties formed a coalition to run the country between 2008 and 2013 had given room for “unholy alliances” between some
Zanu PF members and the opposition.