Suspicion, sarcasm greet new Zim opposition leader

2016-03-01 19:21

Harare - Suspicion, excitement and bitterness greeted Zimbabwe's former vice president Joice Mujuru at her first ever press conference as opposition leader in Harare on Tuesday morning.

Amid the hype, the jostling journalists and the reams of tweets, there were two big questions: Did Mujuru regret her past in Zanu-PF, the party that spat her out so ruthlessly 14 months ago? 

And will her new People First party capture the hearts of the millions who might once have supported Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change party?

Flanked by a coterie of ex-Zanu-PF bigwigs, Mujuru, 60, was critical of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party in her address at Harare's plush Meikles Hotel. People First would fight an "unjust system" which "has stolen the people's hopes for the future", she reportedly promised.

But she refused to criticise longtime ruler Mugabe, 92, under who she served as vice president from 2004 to 2014.

"I don't believe in taking about talking about other people's characteristics," Mujuru said primly.

Mugabe's wife Grace led the vitriolic campaign to get Mujuru ousted in 2014.

There is a suspicion from some in Mujuru's family that Zanu-PF may have had a hand in the mysterious death in 2011 of her husband, the powerful ex-army commander, Solomon Mujuru 

Some criticism of his excellency might have been expected, if not welcomed, several locals thought.

Tweeted @Clayton_Moyo: "If Joice Mujuru is still pussyfooting about taking her former boss head-on then she might be wasting her time."

"She fears him!" crowed @KudaDex.

Mujuru's slamming of institutionalised corruption (she said it had "no place" in a People First government) provoked an avalanche of sarcasm, with several pointing out that the ex-VP herself might have behaved corruptly during her time in Zanu-PF.

Tweeted @CaesarZvayi, the editor of the state-controlled Herald newspaper: "Mai Mujuru, who declared 100% disability to access the war victims' compensation fund, is pontificating."

The privately-owned Daily News suggested that the president had made a "monumental political blunder" in getting rid of his former deputy. Elections in Zimbabwe are just two years away, when Mugabe will be 94.

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