HARARE – Opposition leader and former vice president Joice Mujuru is not pinning her hopes on the Coroner’s Office Bill to finally bring closure to the mysterious death of her husband, Solomon, who died in an inferno at their Beatrice farm in 2011.
If anything, the former ruling Zanu PF stalwart — unceremoniously fired by President Robert Mugabe in 2014 — who now heads the National People’s Party, believes the Coroner’s Office will be manipulated by the regime.
This comes as Mugabe announced at the opening of the fifth session of the eighth Parliament last Tuesday that a Coroner’s Bill will be tabled.
The Bill seeks to overhaul Zimbabwe’s current inquest system, which is failing to meet the current trends in investigations of untimely, suspicious and unexplained deaths.
A coroner is a public official who investigates, by inquest, any death not due to natural causes.
The Coroner’s Bill is one of several pieces of legislation that will be brought before the fifth session of the august House for alignment to the Constitution.
But Mujuru is convinced that even if it passes through the National Assembly and Senate, the Bill will do little to heal the wounds of her husband’s death.
Solomon died on August 11, 2011 in an inferno at his Alamein Farm house.
Following his death, his elder brother Joel announced that 12 private investigators had been hired to probe the late army general’s death after the State had ruled out foul play.
Mujuru said the Zanu PF-led government’s reputation of interfering with the law is well documented and the Coroner’s Office will not be spared.
Through her spokesperson Gift Nyandoro, she said: “The question of a Coroner’s Bill is a matter of over expenditure of time and effort in circumstances wherein the whole exercise smacks of hypocrisy and deceit.”
“What is required is not a multitude of Bills. Rather, it is the will power to observe and respect existing pieces of legislation,” Nyandoro told the Daily News.
“The law needs to be applied fairly without discrimination and failure to do the same will without doubt fail to bring closure to unexplained and mysterious deaths circumstances,” he said.
“The ulterior motive is there and clear. It’s aimed at cleansing satanic actors by making them look like Christians since we are into 2018 elections,” Nyandoro said.
Mujuru has not hidden her suspicions that Mugabe could have had a hand in her husband’s gory death, claiming in various interviews that the nonagenarian is aware of the circumstances leading to Solomon’s demise.
She, however, could not be drawn to comment on whom she thinks killed her husband or the efforts she is making to find justice.
“The questions of circumstances regarding the unusual death of the late general remain a family issue….but we believe that the truth shall never be conquered by evil.”
The Coroner’s Bill is part of 30 outstanding Acts out of the 206 pieces of legislation identified as requiring alignment to the Constitution.
The rest have been aligned through the enactment of legislation, such as the National Prosecuting Authority Act, the Public Debt Management Act, and the promulgation of the General Laws Amendment Act.
The Bill comes as Zimbabwe has been battling to get to the bottom of unexplained deaths, while many witnesses who have appeared in court to give evidence in mysterious death cases have claimed that they have been intimidated.
Speaking during a Coroner’s Office Bill consultation workshop in Bulawayo early this year, Health ministry pathology director, Maxwell Hove, emphasised the need for an independent investigator, especially in cases where police are accused.
He said Zimbabwe must review its agreement with Cuba after a pathologist seconded to it by the country was harassed following the inquest of Mujuru’s death.
Hove added: “In 2002, we had the case of Cain Nkala who was abducted and found in a shallow grave just outside Bulawayo. A Tanzanian specialist was called in and he went there and did his job as Nkala was exhumed. He was a key witness in court.”
“However, when he (Tanzanian pathologist) went to court, he was put under a lot of pressure (and was) thoroughly challenged. He left the police force and fled Zimbabwe through Botswana. He later came back and tried to re-join the police force but the police refused to take him back,” he said.