People First leader Joice Mujuru says men have hardened her. She spoke responding to questions surrounding her late husband, Gen Solomon Mujuru’s death, saying she has been taught a tough lesson.
Below is her (JM) wide ranging interview with ZimEye.com’s Grace Kwinjeh (GK):
GK: Who is Joice Mujuru?
JM: Joice Mujuru is a freedom fighter, mother, grandmother, widow, development activist, Christian and farmer not necessarily in that order!
GK:You went to war at a very young age and made a very huge sacrifice. What is your take on the state of the war veterans today?
JM:Betrayed, neglected, short changed and used.
GK: How do you view the way the liberation struggle is being narrated from within the party you once belonged to Zanu PF?; And outside, you have those like the late Wilfred Mhanda and Masipula Sithole with slightly different views?
JM: Skewed, selective emphasis, underplaying certain people’s roles and so on: biased against other players, the role of ZANLA /ZANU, ZIPRA/ZAPU and the role of the generality of the masses; literally rewriting history in the process.
GK: You have had the opportunity as a female to serve in government in various capacities, leading to you being the first female Vice-President in Zimbabwe. What challenges did you have to deal with? What good memories or lessons have you carried to this day?
JM: Male dominance and chauvinism has hardened me to resolutely stand up for self and the downtrodden, not only women and not as a feminist but humans. I have learnt to be principled and not a pretender.
GK: You worked directly under the mentorship of President Robert Mugabe and now you two have since fallen apart. Do you feel vindicated by the chaos in Zanu PF at the moment? Do you feel sad given your own sacrifices in building one of the most formidable political parties of our times? How do you see Zanu PF’s future?
JM: Would rather not comment much on this still unfolding drama.
GK: You are now openly talking about your husband’s death. Had he been alive today given what is going on in the party and how the country itself is a total mess, how do you think he would have responded?
JM: No comment. I don’t know, who knows?
GK: Had he been alive, do you think you would have been persecuted the way you were by Zanu PF? And why did you soldier on in Zanu PF after his death?
JM: This is unfortunate. We have different backgrounds, upbringing and different ways of looking at things and events. One wishes to see how events unfold, continue to unfold and this is where we are. I am sure there is more to come?
GK: You have, however, been very gracious in dealing with those who persecuted, moving on and forming your own political party. What inspired the name People First?
JM: Our core value. We put the wishes of the people at the fore.
GK: You play your cards close to your chest keeping your opponents guessing on your next move, for instance your position on forming a coalition with other opposition formations seems to be not clear. Would you accept such an arrangement?
JM: Our people, our membership will discuss and decide on the matter.
GK: You seem to be at the centre of the country’s politics drawing support from all the other political formations. Some are not happy with this. What has your response been to the idea of fishing from certain dams as they claim? Should supporters be denied the opportunity to decide where they will go?
JM: We believe in the freedom of association.
GK: There are some hard questions some Zimbabweans still have for some of your lieutenants for instance their role and participation in human rights violations when they were still in Zanu PF. What is People First’s policy on this?
JM: We have courts of law in this country; they should deal with all matters in terms of the law.
GK: What is your message for Zimbabwean women based on your journey, life experiences and decisions you have had to make?
JM: Society in general and the State in particular should provide equal opportunities to lead to true and real empowerment of the girl-child. In turn women and the girl-child should be forthcoming and take up the challenge to contribute meaningfully in all spheres of life.-Online