Forget about Mujuru

It is surprising that there are people out there who still believe that Joice Mujuru will emerge from under the blankets to lead this vague movement they call People First. That will never happen because she is both unwilling and lacks the necessary leadership qualities. It did not take me aback when she chickened out

Tawanda Majoni

Tawanda Majoni

It is surprising that there are people out there who still believe that Joice Mujuru will emerge from under the blankets to lead this vague movement they call People First. That will never happen because she is both unwilling and lacks the necessary leadership qualities.

It did not take me aback when she chickened out of the Itai Dzamara prayer meeting two Saturdays ago. I never anticipated that she would have the guts nor the commitment to converge with other opposition leaders. Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa can bark all they like about Mujuru leading them to the 2018 polls, but the plain truth is that they are just grandstanding. Deep down, they know that Mujuru will never do that.

To start with, there is a big myth around Mujuru being the leader of a Zanu (PF) faction. What we call the Mujuru faction, in essence, is a creation of her late husband, Solomon. Not Joice. She was opportunistically thrust to the helm of the camp when the late general died in an inferno in August 2011. Her husband was the strategist and main brains behind the camp that fought fiercely with the other led by Emmerson Mnangagwa in the cut-throat race to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

The late general never considered Joice to be a leader, and he said so. His idea was for Simba Makoni to lead the camp and replace Mugabe at an opportune time. When Makoni pulled out of Zanu (PF) in early 2008 ahead of the March general elections, the idea was to sway Zanu (PF) followers to his camp, using the Mavambo president as the leader. Not Joice. Unfortunately, the general developed cold feet at the last moment and Simba became a sacrificial lamb.

Joice merely got to lead the camp because there was no other person to do it. She happened to be strategically positioned because she was Mugabe’s deputy and thus there was this thinking that she held a big chance to take over from him. In any case, Mugabe had in 2004 given that impression when he remarked at the party’s congress in Harare that, after being made the deputy, the sky was the limit.

Presidential ambitions

Quite tellingly, during her “tenure” as the faction leader, she hardly did anything to show robust leadership qualities. In fact, most of the strategising was done by the likes of Ray Kaukonde, Nicholas Goche, Rugare Gumbo and, later, Didymus Mutasa – who initially had his own presidential ambitions. Clearly, all Mujuru did was to wait to be briefed on progress and give the strategists the nod because she saw an opportunity to rise to the apex of the party.

In other words, Mujuru was merely a handouts person. She was made vice president by powerful Zanu (PF) members even though there were others who were more senior to her. Solomon played a pivotal role in that because she presented him with a chance to create a buffer against Mnangagwa.

It must be remembered that when Joice became VP in 2004, she was separated from her husband, but the two still shared a common position against Mnangagwa. Even then, Solomon preferred Makoni to be the leader of the faction. In his own words, Joice “is not presidential stuff”. There was nothing about her during her time as the VP that distinguished her as a leader. Readers will remember her famous words when she distanced herself from leading the women’s cause, insisting that she was a national leader rather than a gender activist. Put differently, she was too anxious to remain under the control of men rather than break new ground.

My strong suspicion is that Joice still harbours ambitions of going back to Zanu (PF). She is too cowardly to make a clean break from the party, because she is afraid it’s too cold out there. She is not sure what fate holds for her outside the only party she has known since she was a teenager. There are many examples that she should consider. All the heavies who have attempted to get out of Zanu (PF) completely are now in the wilderness and she is not prepared to take chances.

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Post published in: Analysis
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