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Has ambition corrupted Mujuru?. . . but history does not lie

19 Aug 2016 at 06:11hrs | Views
On many levels, the question of Zimbabwe People First leader Joice Mujuru's corruptibility is largely rhetorical. Her story in Government for the 34 years to 2014 when she was booted out as Vice-President and expelled from Zanu-PF has an unhappy tincture of stories relating to greed and malfeseance.

Yet, one could argue that for the most part, even after her travails in the latter years in Zanu-PF, Dr Mujuru maintained her sense of history and where she rightly belongs in the narrative of the liberation struggle and politics of modern Zimbabwe.

For a significant period after she was expelled from Zanu-PF, Dr Mujuru maintained an almost golden silence and refused to be drawn into casting aspersions on President Mugabe, her mentor and benefactor – one who had her made Minister of Youth in 1980 despite the fact that, by her own admission, she could not speak English.

In fact, there were many instances that she called President Mugabe, "Baba" – Father – and this would fit well politically and otherwise.

Here is a man who began active politics when Dr Mujuru was a tot of five and nurtured her to become the country's youngest ever minister and first female Vice President, treating her in some kind of daddy's-daughter fashion.

But things change.

It would seem now Joice Mujuru has lost sense of her political morality and history as she angles to dethrone President Mugabe.

This week she shocked the world when her party claimed that President Mugabe played no part in the liberation of Zimbabwe, something that was meant to elevate her politically and project her as an Amazon of Zimbabwean history.

However, facts of history are stubborn.

A cursory look at liberation war history, from reputable authorities including the late Professor Masipula Sithole, the late David Martin, Phyllis Johnson, Brian Roftopolous and Alois Mambo, discredits Mujuru's claim to any Amazonian role she and her minions such as one Gift Nyandoro may aspire to now.

Even politicians in Mujuru's own camp, including Agrippa Mutambara who has written a liberation war memoir, will throw a wet blanket on Mujuru's claim.

While a timeline of President Mugabe's contributions to the liberation of the nation – captured in reputed historical accounts – shows a man striding history, Joice Mujuru is something between an ordinary woman and a glorified beneficiary of affirmative action.

Basically, for the greater part of the liberation struggle President Mugabe was either the secretary general or the president of Zanu, the party responsible for the liberation struggle, along with Zapu.

In light of his executive functions in the Second Chimurenga war cabinet, it would be an aberation to assign him to the periphery.

President Mugabe joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) as Information and Publicity Secretary in 1960. The late David Martin and Phyllis Johnson describe him as approaching politics with a militant streak, and spurning the conservative politics that originally characterised African politics.

Prior to his entry into politics, the former teacher was an able political orator – articulate, militant and allusive to the imperative of "liberation now" as he had witnessed it during his teaching stint in Ghana.

After the NDP ban, he had a short-lived stint in the Joshua Nkomo-led Zapu. After the Zapu ban, Mugabe and others resolved to "establish an underground movement which would train an army and start the armed struggle".

The resolution to take up arms comes across in Martin and Johnson's book, "The Struggle for Zimbabwe," as consistent with his agitation for more practical action during his stint in the short-lived parties.

The militant orator Mugabe was to be charged with "sedition and subversive statements" for criticising the Rhodesian government. His wife, Sally, was also arrested for criticising the British Queen.

He jumped bail two weeks before the historic formation of the Organisation of African Unity (now African Union) to be part of an observer mission at the OAU summit in Tanzania.

According to Martin and Johnson, President Mugabe laid the groundwork for the liberation struggle in prison together with fellow detainees.

It is commonly held that President Mugabe was a key figure at the formation of Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) at Enos Nkala's Highfield house in 1963.

During the same year, he briefly returned to Ghana to persuade Dr Kwame Nkrumah's government to train 50 guerillas for the Second Chimurenga.

In light of President Mugabe's guerilla-themed leadership in the formative years of the nationalist movement, one has to be either brave or ignorant to claim that he was at the periphery of the liberation struggle.

During more than a decade of detention, President Mugabe and other key nationalist figures including Edgar Tekere, Maurice Nyagumbo and Morton Malianga, maintained contact with the Zanu leadership in Zambia and subsequently in Mozambique.

Even as a detainee, he attended meetings on liberation war strategy set up by African leaders such as Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda.

A distinctive feature commonly attributed to him is that he maintained the militaristic hardline, Smith's guest in Rhodesian cells, in contrast to pacifist leaders.

He was part of the Zanu leaders that reprimanded Sithole for renouncing the liberation struggle as a terrorist movement and distancing himself from the fighters in return for comfort.

On his release in 1974, President Mugabe and former inmates were suspicious of the détente in favour of the escalation of the struggle to a point where the enemy would be cornered into unconditional surrender.

Détente is the period when guns were going mute as Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda and apartheid South African president John Vorster were looking to bring about a negotiated peace to Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe and others would have none of it. He went on to recruit for the war effort, along with others, noting that negotiated peace would compromise the founding ideals of the liberation struggle.

Earlier in 1974, he had written a joint statement with fellow detainees Ndabaningi Sithole, Malianga, Tekere, Nyagumbo and Nkala condemning Bishop Abel Muzorewa's ANC pacifist, compromise talks with the illegal Rhodesian regime and dissociating Zanu from the negotiations.

The leaders insisted on "majority rule now" and committed to sustaining guerrilla warfare to its logical conclusion. Such decisions would not have been effected by someone on the periphery of the struggle.

According to Martin and Johnson, Mugabe took part in Zanu's emergency meeting held in Rhodesia in 1975 following the death of Herbert Chitepo and the subsequent incarceration of nationalist leaders by Zambian authorities.

On the head of the agenda was mapping the way forward to save the war effort. "It was quite clear that if the fighting forces were left leaderless, numerous problems were going to arise. Unless we acted quickly, the war was going to collapse," a leader told Martin and Johnson.

During the period, a decision was reached to send President Mugabe and Tekere to Mozambique to stoke the faltering war effort. Sister Mary Aquina of the Roman Catholic Church helped the duo to Inyanga (now Nyanga) where the legendary Chief Rekayi Tangwena hid them and helped them cross the border into Mozambique.

The comrades inducted recruits for the armed struggle at Frelimo bases, first at Seguranca then at Vila Gouevia and Vila Pery (now Chimoio), politicising them, and teaching the history of our country and what the war was all about.

A high point in the liberation struggle was the merging of Zanu and Zapu into the Zimbabwe Patriotic Front to the enthusiastic support of the Frontline States.

"This position held that the Patriotic Front was a genuine (political) marriage between two men (President Mugabe and Nkomo) who loved the fatherland beyond petty personal ambitions," Prof Sithole recounts in his book, "Zimbabwe: Struggles within a Struggle".

"Nkomo and Mugabe were presumed to be militant Zimbabwean patriots with the true interests of the masses at heart. That they should have formed an alliance was only natural – an outgrowth of hearts and minds that felt and thought alike," Sithole writes.

Agrippa Mutambara, Dr Mujuru's lieutenant in ZPF, gives a less partisan account of President Mugabe's status in Zanu/Zanla structure in his book "The Rebel in Me: A Zanla Guerrilla Commander in Rhodesian Bush War, 1975-1980".

"I did not have the opportunity and courage to speak to him (Mugabe) then or during his subsequent visits while I was there.

"I felt I was a nonentity, honoured to see my leader from a distance and content to join others in responding to his slogans," Mutambara writes.

The narrative speaks not so much to Mutambara's political affections at the time of writing but the running of the struggle.

ZPF leader Dr Mujuru previously referred to the President as her mentor and father, especially taking into account the age and experience gap.

What has changed?

What has she seen now, with respect to the liberation struggle, which she could not have seen during her Zanu-PF tenure?

Whatever the case, and whatever the fight, history must remain tamperproof as it is a people's ideological compass.

It would seem the ambition for power has corrupted her sense of political morality.

Source - the herald
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