Zim ‘king maker’ dies in mysterious fire

2011-08-16 13:42

Solomon Mujuru (62), Zimbabwe’s deputy president and the post-independence-era army general has died.

State-owned media, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, this afternoon confirmed that a fire broke out on Mujuru’s farm in Beatrice last night, where the former army general was “burnt beyond recognition”.

A worker at the farm is said to have alerted police when the fire broke out, but authorities arrived at the scene late.

Mujuru’s charred remains have since been taken to the HQ1 Commando army barracks in the capital, Harare.

Six other people who were at the farmhouse also died in the inferno.

So far, only the State Security minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, a senior government official has confirmed news of Mujuru’s death in a televised announcement to the nation.

His announcement, however, has failed to quell growing political speculation in the capital over Mujuru’s death.

Unconfirmed speculation also peddled by several Zanu-PF sources who spoke to City Press suggest that “gunfire was heard at the Mujuru residence”.

Mujuru was the leader of a faction within Zanu-PF, pushing to have Joyce succeed President Robert Mugabe as the country’s next leader.

The other faction in the party is led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the current defence minister.

Mujuru’s sudden death is certain to spark a fresh crisis within the Zanu-PF, which is grappling with the deeply divisive task of choosing a successor amid reports of Mugabe’s quickly failing health.

Zimbabwe businessman and media publisher Trevor Ncube said: “Retired General Solomon Mujuru’s death in a fire at his home last night will most likely have some effect on the succession battle in the Zanu-PF. He was known to be a king maker”.

Besides his political career which involved leading the army in the war of independence in the 1970s, Mujuru was also a businessman with various investments spread across the country.

He privately owned the River Ranch diamond mine in Beitbridge – the only other known diamond mine in the country, alongside the Murowa and Marange diamond minefields.

He was also a beneficiary of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme embarked on in 2 000 and is rumoured to have owned up to 10 farms.

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