Harare – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s ex-deputy, Joice Mujuru, says her former boss refused her a chance to resign when she was still in government because the veteran Zimbabwean ruler would have been “portrayed as someone who did not want to leave office”.
Mugabe, 93, who has ruled the southern African country since independence from Britain in 1980, was recently endorsed by his ruling Zanu-PF party as its presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections.
Mugabe was currently on a whirlwind tour of the country’s provinces addressing youth rallies.
Fired from both Mugabe’s government and the ruling party in 2014 for allegedly plotting to assassinate the nonagenarian and engaging in corrupt activities, Mujuru was now one of the leading opposition candidates poised to lead a coalition that would challenge Mugabe’s 37 year rule next year.
The former Zimbabwean vice president, who denied charges leveled against her, told News24 in an exclusive interview that Mugabe discouraged her to resign when she thought she had played her part in Zimbabwe’s national politics.
“Personally I have no idea of what really went on [in] their minds because to me it was business as usual and not knowing [that] others (Mugabe and his wife) had plans about what should life be after Mujuru, Mujuru as in Joice,” said the former vice president.
“…. And that one is a secret which I think manifested itself in them telling me all sorts of stories. I was surprised that whatever I was doing with the couple (Mugabe and his wife Grace), serving under the man whom I had known since the (liberation) struggle (Mugabe), I was no longer appreciated,” explained Mugabe former deputy.
Mujuru said her problems with Mugabe started some time before First Lady Grace Mugabe spearheaded the campaign for her expulsion from Mugabe’s presidium.
“…. there came a time when I asked him (Mugabe) ‘Why don’t you just ask me to resign since I had mooted the idea of retiring?’ This was just before I became a Member of Parliament for Mt. Darwin North constituency,” said Mujuru.
“He said I could not retire at my age, young as I was, when elder leaders like him (Mugabe) were still pushing on.”
Mujuru claimed that Mugabe encouraged her to hold news conference to defend herself when Grace launched a barrage of attacks on her at rallies, adding that she decided not to do so because that would have been tantamount to retaliating at Mugabe.
Following the First Lady’s rallies, Mujuru went on mute until she was dismissed from both the ruling party and government.
“…I told him that if he (Mugabe) needed me and anything answered (on allegations that were be leveled against me) he would find me at my house and that’s where I am.”
Mujuru, who said that she was happy working outside government, was the only veteran leader’s deputy who did not leave government through death.
Mugabe’s late deputies Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika, John Nkomo and Simon Muzenda all died in office at advanced ages.
Mujuru vowed not to return to Zanu-PF and claimed that was fired because Mugabe felt she was becoming a threat to his leadership.
“Maybe it became a threat to have a young vice president like myself who would have been the immediate choice of the nation to lead them …but for Joice who is only 62 and maybe 31 to 32 years difference with Mr Mugabe maybe that was bringing a lot of discomfort to him that he wouldn’t want anybody to take office whilst he was still alive or having been changed within the party which I think that was his choice of dealing with me,” said Mujuru.