Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has for the first time spoken about his sacked predecessor Dr Joice Mujuru, describing her spectacular fall from grace as a self-induced decline that was unimaginable just six months before her demise.
Mujuru lost her number two post in Government and Zanu-PF in December 2014 for allegedly being at the centre of a plot to unseat and or assassinate President Mugabe.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail at his New Government Complex offices in Harare last week, VP Mnangagwa said up until August 2014, the consensus in Zanu-PF was that Dr Mujuru should be retained.
However, Dr Mujuru’s career quickly came unstuck when First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe lifted the lid on her alleged treason, corruption and greed.
VP Mnangagwa said, “Until Amai Mugabe began those rallies, I think everybody was accepting that when we go to Congress, Mai Mujuru will be confirmed as Vice-President.
“The area we had doubt as to who was going to come (as the other VP) was that of the Zapu element. We didn’t know who was going to come.
“But then when the First Lady began doing those rallies and revelations which were now coming out; we were taken by storm and this was done within a period of less than four eeks, five weeks, thereabout.
“The revelations that came out showed that our Vice-President was not fit to lead the country; (we) would easily have our revolution sold that way.
“We didn’t know how the President was going to resolve that one. But we were satisfied (with the outcome) individually, I think: not that there was any meeting which sat together and said no, no.”
VP Mnangagwa said as Zanu-PF members discussed the revelations, they were repulsed.
“Like those things where she would go with the American Ambassador at night and you are Vice-President of a country, and serve tea in a dark house. So, all those things put together and now the things which were being revealed about corruption and so on, we all felt that this country would go into problems if she took over the reins of this country.”
VP Mnangagwa said given the circumstances, it was impossible for Mujuru and her acolytes, including then Zanu-PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa — who was expelled from the party last week — to continue in their roles.
“We worked through the Congress with Mutasa and everybody. I was the legal advisor. We all put our heads together. Now I’m reading in the paper that he is not a Makoni, he is not even a Nyathi! So the truth comes, but comes very slowly. This guy may not be Zimbabwean, perhaps (laughing).
“We worked together. Then by the time we went to Congress itself, the entire country was so agitated against these revelations. But for Mutasa, of course, he fell ill and he was allowed by the President to go to South Africa. That’s how he did not come to Congress as far as I am concerned. But for the former VP, she was afraid to come; kuti kwahi ndosvereredzwa and so on. She didn’t come to the Congress, which meant she felt the guilt. As a revolutionary, it doesn’t matter what. You go. If your people would want to sacrifice or kill you, you go; that’s it, you must die. That’s the revolution. Zvakanzi VaMnangagwa mukaenda munourawa, ndinoti: ‘Ibva, ndinoyenda ndozviwonera ipapa’.
“If I die, I die, but the revolution continues, which means I have remained consistent. That’s what it means. So that’s what happened.”
VP Mnangagwa said President Mugabe never revealed his plan to fire Mujuru and appoint him in her stead.
“Until the last minute, he never confided in me to say he wants to make me Vice-President. Never. He just announced. I didn’t know whether to jump or sit. So, it took everybody by surprise.”
The VP also spoke on his close working relationship with President Mugabe, which dates back to 1977.
“As it is, I have never worked for mumwe ‘murungu’. From the day I was 18, I have just been in the revolution. I have just been in the party.
“I am now 71; I am turning 72 just now. Throughout, I have just been in the revolution and I have worked with the President, these 35 years plus the other 14, all these years.
“So I understand the President and I believe he understands me, too. But the most important thing is he wants honesty and commitment. Honesty, commitment and loyalty: Those are the three things. If you have those three, you are together.”
He said President Mugabe had over the decades faced much betrayal and had dealt with it quite admirably.
“We know and understand that no revolution in history has been smooth. You will always have people who fail to toe the correct line of the revolution. That happens.
“As Mao Tse Tung says, when that happens, you remove them from the main core of the revolution and rehabilitate them back into the revolution if you feel they can be rehabilitated.
“However, never allow them to take positions of leadership because they have already shown a weakness by failing to toe the correct line of the revolution. But I think because the President is a very kind person, he had allowed even those who had erred during the course of the revolution also to come back and take leading roles in advancing the revolution and they have betrayed us again.”
Turning to claims that President Mugabe is a dictator and does not take advice, VP Mnangagwa said: “He doesn’t take counsel? He doesn’t take stupid counsel! That I’ll agree with you. If you report to him, he will interrogate you. And don’t go to him with half-baked decisions because he can prick holes into your argument. Now I am so used that when I go to him, I know I must prepare myself and I must argue my case. And he enjoys somebody who argues . . . But if you go there with a stupid thing, of course he will say ‘no’. But he is very tolerant, even where we, as the general leadership, want to be very harsh.”