Zimbabwe's state media attacks Mujuru

2014-10-30 21:17
Herald masthead. (Supplied)

Herald masthead. (Supplied)

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Harare - Zimbabwe's state media accused Vice-President Joice Mujuru of extortion and abuse of office on Thursday in what observers say is a stepped-up campaign to discredit her in a battle to succeed ageing President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe, 90, and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has not indicated a preferred political heir, but his advanced age and rumours of ill health have escalated succession fights in the ruling Zanu-PF party.

The race has been shaken up in recent weeks by first lady Grace Mugabe, 49, who has emerged as a potential successor. She has launched withering attacks on Mujuru, accusing her of plotting to oust the president at a party congress in December.

Mujuru faced a new round of damaging allegations on Thursday from the state-owned Herald newspaper, widely seen as the voice of the government and powerful forces within Zanu-PF.

It accused her of illegally receiving money from investment partners and using her political clout to squeeze them out of a business venture.

"Details of Vice-President Joice Mujuru's illicit business dealings have begun to emerge amid revelations she received, and signed for, thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments from Kenyan and Indian financiers who had invested in the Mujuru family-owned duty-free shops at the Harare International Airport," the Herald said.

Citing what it said were documents in its possession and unnamed sources, the paper said Mujuru then "elbowed out the investors in a manner that bordered on extortion and abuse of office".

Sylvester Nguni, the minister of state in Mujuru's office, declined to comment, saying he had not read the Herald report. Mujuru herself has not responded to the attacks by Grace.

ZANU-PF has no history of removing deputy presidents and all of Mugabe's four past deputies died in office, making the criticism of Mujuru from within party ranks unprecedented.


Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said the aim was to drain political support from Mujuru by turning her into a pariah ahead of the December party congress.

"The strategy is to degrade and destroy her. We are in the degrading phase, where they are attacking her personality and credibility," Masunungure said.

Mujuru, a battle-hardened veteran of the 1970s liberation war with a nom de guerre that means 'Spill Blood', won Mugabe's support for the vice-president post in 2004.

Her family is known to own businesses including a diamond mine in southern Zimbabwe, which shut down two years ago due to financial problems, and shares in ferrochrome producer ZimAlloys, which also closed down and is technically insolvent. The family also owns at least two farms and the duty-free shops.

Grace's sudden rise into the top leadership of Zanu-PF has been welcomed by some officials who say she will end factional fights in the party and have urged her to seek higher office, mostly likely the vice presidency.

But in private, some senior Zanu-PF members are critical, accusing Mugabe of trying to establish a ruling "Mugabe dynasty". Grace has particularly said Mujuru is unhappy with the first lady's rise in the ruling party.

The current political infighting comes against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and high unemployment.

Read more on:    joice mujuru  |  grace mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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