PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Monday night fired Vice-President Joice Mujuru and eight other ministers, ending months of speculation on the future of his deputy who is alleged to have plotted to unseat the veteran ruler.
While Mujuru’s ouster had largely been expected, it is likely to have sent shockwaves across the country as the last time Mugabe fired senior government officials was in 1983, when he kicked out Zapu members.
In a statement announcing the sacking, Mugabe said Mujuru’s conduct had become inconsistent with the required standard.
“In terms of Section 102(b), His Excellency Cde R G Mugabe has exercised his powers to relieve Honourable JTR Mujuru of her position as Vice-President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with immediate effect, as it had become evident that her conduct in the discharge of her duties had become inconsistent with the expected standard, exhibiting conflict between official duties and private interests,” reads the notice.
Ironically, Mujuru’s sacking must have come moments after she sent out a press release reaffirming her support for Mugabe, saying the charges against her were ridiculous, outrageous and without an iota of evidence.
To complete the shake-up, Mugabe fired his long-time ally and confidant, Didymus Mutasa, the Presidential Affairs minister.
Other ministers to get the boot are Information Communications Technology and Postal and Courier Services minister Webster Shamu, Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Francis Nhema and Higher and Tertiary Education minister Olivia Muchena.
Early yesterday, news started filtering that Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire had been booted out.
Others who were sacked are Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs minister Simba Mudarikwa and Labour minister Nicholas Goche.
In response to her sacking, Mujuru said she received a letter advising her she was no longer the vice-president.
“The letter said I was no longer vice-president of Zimbabwe, full stop,” she said.
“And he quoted Section 102(1b) of the Constitution, which I tried to check, but did not get, maybe he wanted to say Section 2b.”
The outgoing vice-president described her sacking as a result of politicking.
“Some say politics is a dirty game, this time in Zanu PF it just got dirtier,” she said.
Mujuru was non-committal on her future and whether she would challenge her dismissal.
“It’s too early for me to say,” she said, before adding, “I am not a fighting character.”
Mujuru, who insists she was loyal to Mugabe, said she had acted as president on several occasions in the past decade, but at no time had she ever thought of removing Mugabe.
“I was acting president several times and I do not think there was ever a time when any of his (Mugabe’s) security details told him that the vice-president invited us over for a plot of that nature, no way,” she said.
Mujuru said Zanu PF had now been infiltrated and she had warned Mugabe about it, but he was oblivious to the plot.
However, Mujuru, who described herself as “poor widow”, said she realised Mugabe knew about a plot against her when he addressed bussed youths at Zanu PF’s headquarters ahead of a politburo meeting.
She refused to identify who the alleged plotters were, saying she was not good at dropping names.
The former vice-president, despite her sacking, said she was not leaving Zanu PF as that was the only party she knew and ever belonged to, adding that she would die within the party.
Having been dropped from Zanu PF’s central committee and the politburo, Mujuru may soon find herself in the political wilderness like the party’s former spokesperson Rugare Gumbo who was expelled from the former liberation war movement.
It remains to be seen whether Mujuru will survive the raft of accusations levelled against her, including treason and corruption.
Fired ministers are accused of being involved in factional politics and plotting to topple Mugabe.
Mugabe is now expected to name a new Cabinet and the Zanu PF politburo before he goes on his annual leave.