The dictatorial leader of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, is no stranger to controversy, and recently found himself in the middle of yet another scandal. Mugabe revealed in a ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front) Committee meeting that he had uncovered a plot to assassinate him, headed by Vice President Joice Mujuru, along with several other high profile leaders. Read on for the central details of the story.
Sources: Aljazeera.com, ABCNews.Go.com, AllAfrica.com, News24.com, TimesLive.co.za, MG.co.za, BBC.com, NehandaRadio.com, TheGlobeAndMail.com, STLToday.com
The plot that has supposedly been uncovered implicates the ZANU-PF Vice President Joice Mujuru, as well as secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, Secretary for Transport and Welfare Nicholas Goche, were plotting to hire a hit man to assassinate Mugabe, presumably leaving the way clear for Mujuru to fill the role.
Though Mujuru has often remained silent regarding Mugabe’s attacks on her, she broke her silence with this statement, “I regret that certain persons have elected to make false, unsubstantiated, malicious, defamatory, and irresponsible statements about me…I stand ready to defend myself before the party and in any court of law on any of the allegations made against me.”
Mnangagwa is also thought to be a strong force behind the rapid political rise of Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, who was recently nominated to lead the ruling party’s women’s league – giving her a seat on the party’s politburo, its top decision-making body. Since assuming that position in July 2014, it is thought that she, along with Mnangagwa, have launched a campaign to discredit Mujuru.
Though they refused to attribute the information regarding the alleged plot to sources, including security officials, the state-run newspaper cited they had a voice recording and reported comments as evidence. The state-owned media also made sensational claims of senior government officials going abroad to scout for a hit man for Mugabe.
In a televised state address, Mugabe sharply criticized Mujuru, accusing her of attempting to postpone the 2013 elections to weaken his position, and continued by saying, “It is a woman who is saying she now wants to rule. We know the infiltration that has gone on. We know the discussions that have been done to link up with the [political opposition] and America will then pour in money. You know that simplistic thinking.”
Though she has been a trusted member of Mugabe’s inner circle since he consolidated power in the 1970s following the country’s war for independence, Mujuru has already been barred from serving in the party’s Central Committee due to the allegations.
The political maneuvering on Mugabe’s part that has followed the allegations have led many to believe he seeks to remain as Zimbabwe’s president until his death, as well as secure the economic interests of his family. As the leader of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, Pedzisai Ruhanya, said, “You challenge Mugabe, you are accused of treason.” Former party spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, echoed the sentiment, saying, “If he wants to destroy someone, he will just say you want to assassinate him…Why would she plan to kill a 90-year-old man she served loyally since she was a kid?”
Source: Aljazeera.com, ABCNews.Go.com
Following the initial announcement of the plot by the Sunday Mail, further reports by state media surfaced that claimed they had recordings that the MDC-T politician spoke about the elimination of Mugabe with emissaries from Mujuru. Sikhala denied the charges as well, maintaining that his innocence would hold up in a court of law. Sikhala was also linked to a difference assassination plot in 2002, for which he and other MDC-T party activists were acquitted.
Despite his advanced age and perpetual rumors of ill health, potentially cancer, Mugabe is running unchallenged as the ZANU-PF leader, and will remain so for the country’s next elections in 2018.
The country’s First Lady has developed a reputation for being outspoken against her opponents, and has lashed out at Mujuru in various public settings. She has backed the assassination allegations, claiming that they had spent time plotting to oust her husband. At rallies, she supported the sacking of the Vice President for being “corrupt, an extortionist, incompetent, a gossiper, a liar, and ungrateful.”
At one rally, Grace Mugabe stated, “They say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?” This has further fueled speculation that she has worked to discredit Mujuru, a former frontrunner to succeed the president, along with her rapid rise to political power as the new leader of the ZANU-PF Women’s League.
Party youths have expressed their desire to see Mujuru from removed from a leadership position with the ZANU-PF, and many feel as though she has collaborated with opposition forces and white people – undermining the gains that the party has made for the country since its independence.
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