Synopsis: Ahead of her meeting at Chatham House, Joice Mujuru sets the record straight in an exclusive interview in London on Hot Seat with Violet Gonda. In a long face to face interview, the President Robert Mugabe’s former deputy reveals she is prepared to compensate Guy Watson-Smith, the white farmer, whose farm was grabbed by her late husband. She also claims that Mugabe no longer trusts the CIO and she responds to questions regarding corruption within her own family, Gukurahundi, election rigging, the disability allowance given to former freedom fighters, and why did she stay with the ZanuPF when her husband died?….. was he killed?
Published: 05 October 2016
Violet: Zimbabwe People First opposition party is my guest on the Hotseat programme. The former Vice President who was expelled from ZANU PF in 2015 for allegedly trying to topple President Robert Mugabe is visiting the United Kingdom where she will speak at Chatham House and later in the week meet Zimbabweans at a public gathering in Leicester In this one to one interview I will chat with Amai Mujuru about the political situation in Zimbabwe, her time in ZANU PF, and her views on the economy, corruption and elections in Zimbabwe, among other issues.
Amai Mujuru, first of all take us back to the time at the very beginning when you decided to join the liberation struggle?
Mujuru: Thank you very much Violet and thank you for welcoming us in the United Kingdom to talk about my days of joining the liberation struggle. I was 18 years of age, just having completed my junior certificate and I was now going for my O levels and that was the time when freedom fighters were recruiting in my home area and I became one of the recruitees who then was able to operate before I left for Zambia in 1974.
Violet: Some of your opponents recently wrote really nasty things in the State controlled newspapers where they said that you were just a chimbwido and that you actually did not fight in the trenches
Mujuru: It’s unfortunate because people, when they say that I decide not to go for a blow of a response to such unwarranted attacks, because I don’t want to stoop low to be very honest with you, George Rutanhire, he left the country – I never saw him. He was recruited in June from St Albert’s Mission, and, which point I also want to correct many people, because a lot of people have said I was recruited from St Albert’s Mission. No, I wasn’t. I went to school at Howard, which is a Salvation Army Secondary School. I wasn’t recruited at Howard. I joined the freedom fighters from my home area, which is in Dotito, in December. And, I never saw George, George was never my Commander. What I only know George of having done during my presence was out there in Zambia when George was now asked to go and be our, not representative per se, but to go to Sweden and be part of the group that was collecting clothes for freedom fighters and to go and pack them to send back to Mozambique. That’s all I know about George Rutanhire. But, these are people who are paid to denigrate me because of who I am
Violet: And also it was shocking to read reports, saying that, and I quote from George Rutanhire ‘this woman, Mai Mujuru, contributed to the deaths of many people because she loved men too much.’ And, that you got promoted because of the sexual relationships you allegedly had with war commanders. What can you say about this?
Mujuru: I don’t want to go into detail because I am not such a character. People know me. Now I am a widow for 5 years, I have no boyfriend, I have lived the rest of my life, I have never had a boyfriend in my marriage. So, for George to say that to me, only God knows, because he himself, he knows what he was saying, he was lying. And, you can’t say to somebody that I caused death. Where did you see those deaths happening since I never met you?
Violet: And personally how was it like for you to balance you know looking after your children and also being in the trenches because I understand you had a couple of your children when you were in the liberation struggle, no?
Mujuru: I had two of my girls out there. When I was pregnant with my first girl, I broke my waters in battle. And during that day we lost a lot of comrades. I still remember, Saviour and others died that day and it was the 30th or the 31st, the 1st of August we lost them because those were the days when a base camp called Mudzingadze was attacked and that’s when I broke my waters and I had my first girl, called Rungano. And, you know, like what I’ve said, war is not just something that you can just piss around or play around and so forth, but those are the causes of the war. And during that time, you know, after giving birth to my daughter, I only had my daughter for 3 weeks because of my responsibilities and we had other wives of other commanders who were not in the battlefield or who were in Zambia. My daughter was then taken by her aunty, Mrs Tongogara, to look after her, so I was free now to remain behind and continue with my responsibility.
Violet: This was in Zambia?
Mujuru: yes, my daughter went to Zambia but I remained in Mozambique.
Violet: And you know speaking of the Tongogara’s, there are some many conspiracy theories about who killed and Herbert Chitepo What do you know about this?
Mujuru: I know nothing about it, I think we are in the same basket or understand the same things and that wasn’t my conviction really to try and dig up as to who did what, because that wasn’t really my intention, but it was a loss which affected all of us as young girls, as young freedom fighters because to me, both these gentlemen, they looked after us and we looked up to them and they looked after me like I was their own child. So, it wasn’t something like an individual like myself would try to dig up as to who did what otherwise someone would end up giving lies to the world or to those that would want to know exactly what happened.
Violet: And then, in independent Zimbabwe quite a number of senior government officials got disability allowances and I understand initially you were granted 55% Disability Allowance, but later you returned it. Can you tell us why?
Mujuru: Not even later, there and then, I didn’t even take it because I didn’t need it anyway. There were people who were more disabled then even us, who were said to have been traumatised. For sure, we were traumatised because we were young girls, but I didn’t want it because I was a Minister, I was employed. And that was my excuse. Why would I want to dig into a share where others who are more disadvantaged than me?
Violet: How had they even come up with that? Were you assessed and did you apply for it?
Mujuru: No, I didn’t and you know what Hunzvi was doing? It was like more or less everyone who has been involved in the war has been traumatised. So, him being a doctor, I know. Some of these traumas might be after-effects, so some of these people must get it, but I returned it.
Violet: So you didn’t even apply for it?
Mujuru: No I didn’t.
Violet: Do you know if any other senior government officials returned the money or it was just yourself?
Mujuru: I don’t know, I wasn’t interested in knowing what other people did.
Violet: Is it true that Webster Shamu actually applied for you?
Mujuru: I don’t remember because those things were being done outside of offices that we were involved in.
Violet: So what went wrong, Zimbabwe at independence, the economy was the same as a country like Singapore looking at other countries like Singapore, and then looking at the country now, what would you say went wrong?
Mujuru: You know, the first 10 years of independence, things went very, very right and I’m sure that’s when the Chidzero’s, that’s when new entrants whom we never saw in the battlefield or in the struggle, came in and things went really very well. But I’m sure when he decided to do things his own way that’s when I’m sure things just started going haywire
Violet: Like what?
Mujuru: Nothing can’t come to mind immediately, but I’m sure you remember very well in 2000, that was in now in 2000, you remember the issue of land I can take it from there. Maybe I can give land as an example. There was a way how the land issue was supposed to be done where you know were supposed to identify land, supposed to discuss with the landowner, agree as to improvements and all the processes were properly laid down. And I still remember as to how the British, the Americans had also given in, in terms of compensation money which they had been given to Zimababwe. And I’m sure there was some time when they asked how the previous monies had been used. And, once you ask that question, if you have used it properly, why would you refuse to give a proper answer, because it’s a straightforward thing. That, you should have just said ‘ok fine, if it was 42 million, you should have just said, ‘yes, I bought this farm because so and so had you know, been vetted and the proper compensation was been given’ and why go round as if that money had been used for other things. So that’s where transparency was questionable. And, for junior ministers like ourselves, we wouldn’t know how these monies were being used. Ok, talk of this programme, the, maybe for short of quick thinking, which Chidzero was known for, which raised quite a lot of money for Zimbabwe, you would want to know how that money was used. If anybody had wanted to question if you had used that money correctly would you really ask them why they are asking that question? If you were a transparent person, if you were an honest person you should be able to just give them a cash flow of how your things have been done, how your monies have been used, you wouldn’t be fighting with the British or the Americans, as to how their monies were used or who was given that money.
Violet: But, was it only the President’s fault here or there were other people.
Mujuru: It is the leader. When something is happened it is the leader who is questioned. And when you the leader is questioned, you call your team to give you that full explanation because you are not the one who is the bookkeeper. You have put your team in place, but when you are now asked and you are not in a position to put things across and make them, make their – lay off their fears – it means you are now supporting corruption; you are not free to answer
Violet: You know, I will come back to the issue of corruption and also the land question, but how do you respond to people who say that you were in this Party that were accused of gross human rights abuses, shocking corruption as you mentioned just now and total disregard of the welfare of the people that you know, that you claimed to have fought for. So why did you wait to actually be thrown out of the Party, why didn’t you just say, you know, ‘enough is enough, I’m not going to be part of this, you know, corrupt Party?
Mujuru: You know there are a lot of things Violet to this thing. It is not a straightforward thing to saying you were there you should have walked out. Mind you, first and foremost, it was a decision I made on my own to go and fight. It was a decision that I made to now say ‘OK fine, the leadership that we have, are they following the policies of ZANU as it was given me by those that first of all spoke to me in order for me to pass that decision’. Fine, but because it’s now happening to somebody who is still young, who is not exposed, and you are now saying to yourself ‘alright, this time with what I have learned’, because after attaining independence, some of us, especially me, decided to go back to school because I felt inadequate. By so doing, you are passing a decision because you now want to understand things as they are being done. By doing that, time is moving and a lot of things are happening, not in your face. Because people think when issues of security are being decided, they are decided in general view of every cabinet minister. No, that’s why there are security ministries, that’s why there is Security Council organisations and so forth, because it’s not public information because once you take it to Cabinet, it’s public information. And, I was rated then, like many other people, as in that section. It’s not something that you would say it would come and we discuss it as to ‘how many attacks are going to be done, and how many arms are going to be sent to…’ and so on and so forth, No, that wasn’t anybody’s domain to do that, there were specialised ministries and committees to do that. So, yes it has taken me – it took me – that long, to do that. But let me tell you, I told Mugabe, I met Mugabe three times. I met Mugabe on 22nd October 2014 when the wife had started talking bad about me and I requested him that him, his wife and myself we talk about things that were not clear to them. Because their accusation was unfounded.
Violet: That you were trying to topple the President?
Mujuru: Yes, I met Mugabe on the 29th October, I asked him who had told him or where did he get the information that I was, you know, looking for a sniper to kill him when I did not have even a pistol in my house. And he even said ‘ah, you know what, this thing has been said by the Military Intelligence’. And I asked him, ‘why Military Intelligence and not Central Intelligence’? He said ‘I no longer trust the Central Intelligence’ and yet these are his people, you see? Military Intelligence, according to my understanding, should have been people who, fine, who should work hand in hand with the Central Intelligence. Why would you discard your other army and keep your other army. Then I said to them ‘anyway, these people are actually relegating you to throwing away your political history, which you have worked for. I told him. On the 1st December 2014 after they had been – after they were going around saying all sorts of things and I had already passed my decision because this is unfounded I am not going to fight them. I’m not going to. Mind you, this is another time when culture and respect and, don’t forget, that time I had thought ‘how did my husband lose life? Because that is still a big question. And I said ‘would this be the reason why my husband died in this mysterious way’? They wanted to attack me when I had nobody closer to me to see what was going to happen to me,
Violet: Would do you hold responsible for your husband?
Mujuru: I am not going to accuse anybody. That is something that we have to leave for now. I said to myself ‘who is dependent on me? My family, immediate family, my children, my grandchildren, my mother – I still have a living mother. And I said, rather than I continue fighting these people, let me quiet but I will tell Mugabe I will leave him, which I did on 1st December 2014. When he wrote around December 14 -15, that ‘I have removed you from ZANU PF’, it was an aftermath, I had already bade him farewell.
Violet: But Mai Mujuru, some would ask one, why did you only leave the Party when they started to attack you as an individual? Why didn’t you leave when all these atrocities were happening, number one, and number two, the most important thing, when your husband died in such a mysterious way and why didn’t you just leave then when you knew it wasn’t just an accident? Why wouldn’t you have just left then?
Mujuru: You know that it’s in the public domain that before I became member of parliament for Mount Darwin North constituency, I bade farewell to Mugabe, this was in Manhenga, in Bindura, I have forgotten the year but you can look back, it should be ‘89, not ‘89, yes, could be somewhere there abouts. But, it was in public because there a rally there I remember very well. Things had not gone well when choosing members of parliament in Mash. Central. A lot of canvassing, dirty work and so on. And I said to myself, ‘I think this is the second time this thing is happening to me’. The first time it happened to me was when I was removed from being secretary for the Womens League and became Secretary for Education in ZANU PF when Sally Mugabe took over. It wasn’t a clean one, but I kept quiet and this time when we were now campaigning, Mashonaland Central leadership had ganged up to saying things which I did not like and Mugabe had come to address at Manhenga, just outside Bindura. I even said ‘basa ndasiya ndapedza’, meaning I’ve done enough and I’m sure I’m satisfied. Why, it’s because I have decided, no, I think I should change what I am doing. I have fought for this country, I have done what I have done, but I think I can concentrate on my education. He himself, you know Mount Darwin constituency came about as his own personal decision, that ‘no, no, no, let’s have another constituency’ and it was you know, designed in such a way that my own mother’s house was the boundary that should mark the boundary going towards Mukumbura. This wasn’t the first time. But I’m sure he is a character, when he has his own, you call it, ‘MacGyver’ way of doing things when he would say ‘ah a, I haven’t done enough with this person I have my rightful moment with which I should strike’. Because it’s not because I had not tried it before, I had. So why these atrocities were happening and you were quiet? Atrocities started in 1982 and I was 27, a child of 27.
Violet: This was Gukurahundi?
Mujuru: Yes because that’s what you are talking about. You are 22, you are 27 and, you have rightly said, ‘Mai Mujuru, why didn’t you leave’ and I told you. Violet, that time, you are young, you are inexperienced, you don’t know nothing, you don’t know what is happening and –
Violet: But you were in government, what was being said in government?
Violet: And even the Central Committee, were you in the Central committee?
Mujuru: I was in the Central Committee, yes
Violet: Which endorsed Gukurahundi?
Mujuru: No, no, no, no. Was Gukurahundi endorsed, like ‘go and kill people’? It was never like that.
Violet: So how did that happen?
Mujuru: You know, it was never – and I still remember very well, I wasn’t there when people would sit down and say, President, set an army to go and kill the masses of Matabeland. Never! That was never discussed in Central Committee, Politburo or Cabinet, – no. It was never like that. But you know when such things are happening they are not done as like what I said, they are not discussed in general, in public. And when you are talking of the Central Committee, how many people are in the Central Committee and you are talking of more than 100 and so it’s no longer a secret, and these things were done secretly.
Violet: So when organisations like the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and other human rights groups wrote all those reports exposing what had happened. First of all, have you read those reports, what was your initial reaction to that and after that was it ever discussed and what was said
Mujuru: It’s a shocker! It was never discussed it was a shocker and I’m sure, he himself, he even came out to say ‘it was a moment of madness’. But let me tell you Violet, it’s never easy moment of madness happens once maybe minutes to say oh I’m sorry Violet, it was a moment of madness, not when years have gone past and you as the Head of State, you know exactly what has happened. But anyway, be that as it may, you cannot continue to say ‘it was a moment of madness’ and you think it has closed that chapter. What you can only say is ‘we cannot do blood loss for the second time’ but what we should be able to do, because in Zimbabwe culturally, we have our own approaches that will then cleanse and appease and show your, can I say remorse, your plea to say this was a moment of madness but your actions of how you do it will then show those who have lost their loved ones that this is the way how it is, accept. And like what I can tell you right now, sitting down with Matabeleland people, the Chiefs, the opinion makers in Matabeland, they understand these things. And it’s not something that we should just leave like that.
Violet: If you are elected in your new government, what would you do and especially in terms of perhaps helping the victims’ families.
Mujuru: What even I’m thinking right now and I’ve said it to people, maybe Mugabe did not have confidence in me to an extent of saying ‘now that Joyce, you are my Vice President, rather than we have a Ministry that will deal with reconciliation, we need to take it further. Let’s not use John Nkomo, their son, to do that but we want someone else’. And me being a mother, being a woman, going to the Chiefs and approach it our own way, with a way of showing them that what happened was not right.
Violet: Why didn’t you bring that up when you were Vice President?
Mujuru: You know it’s an issue that for a character of Mugabe, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t.
That one, has a character of a Headmaster, saying ‘do this, do that’
Violet: He is unapproachable? Even towards you, his favourite daughter?
Mujuru: But am I still his favourite daughter with what he did to me?
Violet: At that time, but at that time you were.
Mujuru: No, he had his hidden feelings and you wouldn’t dare to go to him and say can I do that, you would just see that this face would accept or not accept. You, yourself, you know it
Violet: And your husband? Where was he during that period?
Mujuru: No, he was in Pakistan
Violet: Oh he was in Pakistan during Gukurahundi
Mujuru: Yes he was in Pakistan and he was called to come and work on that one, yes, during Gukurahundi
Violet: So can you share what his thoughts were about this, how did he feel when he found out this is what was happening about since he was the Army General at that time, was he?
Mujuru: He had to be called to come back and sort that out because people who were behind couldn’t. And when he came back, because he was a former ZIPRA, he had lots of friends in ZAPU and by being a ZANLA Commander, again. So he was like the middle of the road person who would take both sides to really understand each other and get things sorted out, and which happened.
Violet: And then coming to the issue of elections, do you accept that Zanu PF rigs elections and that this is something that the opposition has always complained about in the past, that the 2002 election was rigged, then 2005, 2008 to some extent 2013 elections. What can you say about this?
Mujuru: What I can say, maybe to me, the rigging of stashing ballot boxes, I don’t think happened. But that asking people to vote whilst they are being supervised, yes, because that we are beginning to hear it from those that were being supervised, like the uniformed people. And they are telling us right now that don’t accept, as opposition parties, that you allow them to ask us to vote within our establishments. We want to vote from where we come from, we want to be free.
Violet: Surely there are even more ways that ZANU PF could have rigged. Surely there could have been other ways that ZANU PF could have been doing this? What about the reports of this Israeli company called Nikuv that’s also used by ZANU PF to rig elections? Did you know anything about this?
Mujuru: Its one of those things again. Nikuv, yes, I’ve heard about Nikuv and Nikuv is there. But when you ask me that how does Nikuv do it, I will tell you I don’t know because it’s not in my department, I was not even involved and so on. And you know what, if Mugabe was not in a position to show you Party bank accounts how would he be able to show you what Nikuv does? Which is simpler, for one to know Party funds, Party accounts and to know what Nikuv does?
Violet: Who handles Party funds?
Mujuru: Don’t ask me? You are asking me, and I’m telling you I didn’t even know. That’s his character. He will choose to do it with a friend or I don’t want to do it with my Vice President. Mind you, I served with two Vice Presidents’ and both of us where asking each other ‘do you know anything about Party accounts’ said I don’t know. You go to John Nkomo, say ‘Joyce, do you know anything about Party accounts’ we don’t know. And when I tried to assist Party fundraising, so that we don’t do like we are taxing old people, do you know what happened? I was accused of looking for money for myself and yet he knows that money came straight to the Party without any cent being taken out. So you can imagine the type of a person.
Violet: So you are saying it is true when people say that Mugabe is in total control because a lot of people believe that given his age now that he is really not with it anymore and that there are some other people who are actually in control and they are just using him. So are you saying that Mugabe is in total control, he knows what’s happening and that he was the mastermind behind all these shenanigans?
Mujuru: Do you think he is a fool? He is more cleverer than most people but see what other Vice President’s are going through right now. It’s not just Joyce. See what other Vice Presidents are going through right now. You think Mandi Chimene is her own thinking to stand up and shout at a Vice President, you think Mahoka can stand up and shout at a Vice President? You see how he plays around with one against the other
Violet: But Mai Mujuru, Mugabe can hardly walk and stay awake?
Mujuru: Ah, OK! So you think he sleeps all the time? You think he sleeps all the time? He works through people, he works through people.
Violet: so who else is in control? Is his wife as powerful as…
Mujuru: Didn’t you hear what the youth were saying, the way they campaigned and caucused against me? Did you hear what the youth said? Seven youth in the country out of ten, they said Mugabe himself, his wife Grace, sat down with those youth to talk about your own Vice President and lie about your own Vice President. They (sic) are tapes to that effect. So he is good at that. And we are talking about what happened not even two years ago.
Violet: And his wife, how powerful is she?
Mujuru: Ah, maybe when people now are, can’t even decide – they say Amai is the best person to think about and to listen to. You see what is happening, they wouldn’t have allowed her to go about, you know, Chiweshe rally, shouting about her Vice President. And there were quite a few occasions when she was really talking about what she wants.
Violet: So going back to the issue of elections, you are part of NERA, you know, the grouping of opposition political parties calling for reform. Knowing what you know, you know, the way ZANU PF; for lack of a better word; rigs elections, what would be the things that you want before you were to participate in any election going forward?
Mujuru: One, I know Zimbabwe about 8 million people are of voting age. But most of the time you hear those who have voted are 3 million plus, or call it 5 million to 6 million who are of the voting age. Where are the other 3 million when you are only getting 3 million to vote for Mugabe and Tsvangirai and maybe a few. It’s like people of Zimbabwe don’t want to vote. And what we are now saying ‘don’t complain if you don’t vote’, because what you should do now is go and register and vote. And the younger age is the largest, and those are the people who are hard hit, they don’t know what will happen with their future offspring. There are graduates right now, they have no jobs, they are busy selling air time on the streets of Harare, selling oranges and what have you. Is that what you want? And you are complaining that elections are rigged? How would he rig, I take it, when he wins 3 out of 10, how would he rig? But when he wins 3 out of 5, of course he can add 4 to make 7 and become the winner. But I’m saying for as long as Zimbabweans are not yet there in wanting to change the status quo, we will continue to accuse ZANU PF of rigging, but otherwise we are rigging ourselves.
Violet: But what electoral change are you calling for?
Mujuru: We are now saying what we want is we want the – Rita Makarau not to run the two posts that she is running, we also want the Voters Roll to be viewed and supervised by all parties. There are numerous things that we want the level playing field to be looked at and made sure it’s levelled.
Violet: Now, Professor Jonathan Moyo has basically said ZANU PF is not going to agree to any electoral reforms that will remove it from power. So will you participate in 2018 if your demands are not met?
Mujuru: But what we are going to tell them as People First, with or without those electoral reforms having been looked at, for as long as Zimbabweans decide, we can beat ZANU PF hands down. Because yesterday they used to boast about War Veterans going to – you know – frustrate voters in the rural areas, now they have frustrated War Veterans. He doesn’t want to look at War Veterans and these are the War Veterans that are saying ‘no this time, we want to make sure that what we fought for is realised by the nation of Zimbabwe and not the few’. The economy has gone haywire Right now when you want to talk about hunger, come to Zimbabwe, that’s when you can realise what hunger is all about and why. Its maladministration, no agricultural policies that is conducive enough to see Zimbabweans – you know, producing for themselves.
Violet: Do you think the Diaspora community should be allowed to vote?
Mujuru: Diaspora community has to be allowed to vote because you did not come here you know, of your own volition most of you. You came here as economic – you know, persons, hunting for good-living because there is nothing at home. You came here because you ran away from political persecution. And we are saying for all those to happen, if home was right, some of you wouldn’t be here. You want to correct home, so for you to get home to be correct, you have to vote so that you come home and enjoy.
Violet: And your position on a National Transitional Authority?
Mujuru: Which one are you talking about? I don’t want a National Transitional Authority that will play the role of maybe causing a coup. I want a National Transitional Authority that will be agreed upon; if there is going to be one anyway; by Zimbabweans and they really come up with ways and approaches that will be conducive and agreed upon by most people.
Violet: Does the NERA agree? Have you had these discussions about the NTA?
Mujuru: We haven’t discussed about this, we have not come to discuss on that.
Violet: Describe to us what happened in the 2008 general elections because you know, the Opposition says more than 500 of their members were killed including activists like Gift Tandare, Tonderai Ndira. Whose hand was behind the violence? We can’t just blame one person to just say Mugabe was in charge so he is to blame.
Mujuru: I don’t have individual who really committed that, but I’m sure the MDC in their different settings, they know who the hot heads were, maybe they do know that. But let me tell you that the time when I actually came out and I said ‘who is sending people to kill other people’ and that came about when the Chiweshe kraal head people, 11 of them, perished through that violence. And, why? Because my question was, ‘if Mugabe had lost in that constituency I would have probably understood that you are now retaliating because you wanted Mugabe to win. But Mugabe had won. And especially in that, during that election, you know, of 2000, it’s only in Mashonaland Central province where Mugabe won outright. He even lost in Mashonaland West, his own home province. And why, and that was my question now. Why is it that people you are going about killing people? Do you think by killing you get people to understand or to like you, or to follow your party? Or you are even alienating yourself? And I even warned them, I said, ‘from the cultural perspective, don’t you think you are killing those people and their spiritual haunting will go to ZANU PF. Nobody is called ZANU PF. Whatever you commit yourself in the name of a party will come to haunt you and your family. And look at what is happening now? Where People First is going around saying we don’t want any violence, we are a peaceful party, we want to unite the people of Zimbabwe. But ZANU PF continues to come after Zim. PF people. Only two weeks ago, you know Mutambara was fought, when he had gone to rescue one of us who was held 3 days under house arrest because they want to take over his land when you have already announced that land invasions has already passed. You can imagine that the thinking of this Party is violence after violence.
Violet: So even issues like Itai Dzamara’s disappearance this happened when you were still in government.
Mujuru: No, Itai Dzamara I think disappeared when I was already in opposition and I even spoke about that issue, many times. And, to me, in a way I would tend to say are they still doing it for a 90 year old man or these are, what do you call them, the 5th or 4th whatever, you know groups that are trying to do certain things in the name of Mugabe or in the name of ZANU. Can we not have, if our government was a serious government, they should actually be in a position to stop this, that is, if they are not covering up.
Violet: What would you say were your greatest achievements when you were in government, especially during the time when you were Vice President?
Mujuru: My greatest achievement was when I was campaigning for irrigation schemes. I went to Chiredzi and campaigned for our new farmers to grow more and better sugar cane so that they can be seen to be new economic entrants. And, when I was also trying to make sure that we don’t antagonise for no apparent reason even during GNU. And I’m sure that’s where my case started, because I have always been labelled as a liberal, and I will carry on.
Violet: So what were your failures or what do you regret?
Mujuru: What I regret, you know, taking it from how, you know sitting on the terraces now and hearing how people who deeply, deeply hate and stressed is the way how government has been going about issues that really have disintegrated families, social issues to say the least and also the political persecution that the nation has gone through. Like right now we are talking about plus/minus 2 million or 2-3 million that are in South Africa and I don’t know how many thousands, hundreds of thousands that are here, and how many in America and elsewhere.
Violet: Tell us a little bit about your problems with Strive Masiyiwa and the Econet licence.
Mujuru: I don’t know why people think that I have a problem with Masiyiwa and I had a problem with Masiyiwa. When you are in government you don’t deal with things as an individual. And that time the government had decided that they just wanted to give two licences. And the reason why they had favoured Telecel, not me, but its government, the reason why they had favoured Telecel is because it had included black empowerment, you see, for the two licences that they had chosen, and the first one, obviously they had wanted it to go to Net One. And, when all this happened and when they saw that no, no, no, no, there was room anyway of giving a third one and even a fourth one if we want. That’s when the said why are we blocking Masiyiwa and we have to. And mind you Masiyiwa was a family member, or is a family member, and before Masiyiwa left Zimbabwe, I always joke about it, he left with some of my plates he used to take from home with food, because he is part of us. It was to do with government policy at the time, it wasn’t my personal.
Violet: And earlier on you mentioned the issue of corruption. How deep rooted is corruption, how deep rooted is it in ZANU PF and what do you plan to do about it if you are elected in the next election in terms of dealing with corruption.
Mujuru: Don’t talk of ZANU PF Vi, corruption in Zimbabwe is everywhere now. It’s bad. It’s cancerous. And, I think what we have to do is just to say, do you know, once this thing, you apprehend one or two senior people and people see that for sure he has been involved in this and that and that, it will end. How can you run a country like that? How can you? And, people, sometimes they say ‘President, so and so has done so much’ and you see that one person you know for sure does this type of a job and he ends up with a house more or less like this hotel, where did he get the money from?
Violet: So what about this $15 billion?
Mujuru: I was equally shocked. Because I said to myself, OK, fine, you know the issue of diamonds Violet? We are not the only ones in the world that have diamonds. Just neighbours – South Africa, Botswana, they are into diamonds and why would we want to invent the wheel? Why don’t we just use exactly what other countries are doing and why you would want to use it as if it’s something that you are counting from a pocket? Because, being a Vice President to tell you the truth, ask me, who was adjudicating those companies that were going to the diamonds? And when they were doing their diamonds who was looking at their books and whatever and who was even awarding licences?
Violet: Who was it?
Mujuru: Ask Mugabe.
Violet: What about the Minister, there was a Minister there, Obert Mpofu?
Mujuru: Ah obviously, maybe with the Minister. The two of them, maybe they can give us the rightful answer because it was never a Cabinet thing. And I’m happy that time, we had Tendai Biti as our Minister of Finance because there was a GNU there, and he was always complaining ‘I’m not seeing diamond funds.’ So I said ‘Ah, but who is doing this? We are thinking you as the Minister of Finance, you are part of this, why are you not telling us what you do with Mugabe, with monies that are coming from diamonds
Violet: Did you have a claim in Chiadzwa?
Mujuru: No, I’m not even a miner, in my whole life I don’t even know how to mine (laughs)
Violet: But that’s quite strange because I’m sure you’ve seen reports
Mujuru: They are lying!
Violet: That your family owns a diamond mine?
Mujuru: Oh yes, Solomon, yes, had a mine in River Ranch. But when Solomon resigned he was very open, he told the President I want to do 3 things, I want to be a farmer, I want to be a businessperson, I want to be a miner. And being somebody who was with ACR was not a secret, and owning 10% of River Ranch was not a secret. And, you know it Violet, with African men, these ones you see; they don’t say their businesses with their wives, let alone a wife.
Violet: Let alone the Vice President?
Mujuru: : Let alone the Vice President, you are a wife even if you are the Vice President. So since Solomon died and they make a huge story out of his estate, I’m sure this is when they should have told the world how worth Solomon was. Because for somebody of the magnitude of what they have said Solomon owned, they wouldn’t have kept it quiet, they should have said everything. That’s where I hate Zimbabweans because they are the biggest liars sometimes.
Violet: There’s a lot of speculation, you know, we hear that your family owns a lot of farms, own this diamond mine that you –
Mujuru: Last week they published those who own mines, you know, farms and Mai Mujuru just has one farm
Violet: That’s what I was going to say, that are you willing to publically declare all the assets that you actually own so that at least that will put to rest all this speculation?
Mujuru: Ah, why not, why not? This thing, I’ve already – you know what, it’s actually something that I have with my lawyer because I said to my lawyer ‘guess what, now that I have decided to stand as President of People First and once Convention comes and I am confirmed their President who will stand for elections, I will say out and anybody who will then says Mai Mujuru owns X tree and Y pit and Y donkey I will say out. Right now, in my whole life, Violet, I never invaded a farm, personally, I never. My farm which I have has been taken Solomon Mujuru as my husband because our two farms, which we had title deeds to, were taken by government.
Violet: Took by force?
Mujuru: Yes, like anybody else’s farm.
Mujuru: Why? Why would you say don’t take mine while they are taking everybody’s, Mai?
Mujuru: They took!
Violet: Whilst you were still in government?
Mujuru: Whilst I was still in government, whilst Solomon was still alive, they took. You see so they are not only whites who were affected, even us blacks, even at my level, I was affected
Violet: But the Commercial Farm of the farm that you are talking about that you said was taken by your husband
Mujuru: Where I am now
Violet: That’s Alameine?
Mujuru: Alameine, yes
Violet: The white commercial farmer says that
Mujuru: Mr Smith
Violet: Mr Smith says that the farm was taken without payment obliviously but what also he was angry about was that even the tobacco that he had grown on the farm was then pocketed by your late husband. Do you think that’s fair, that he actually grew all the crop and when the farm was taken, everything was taken including that crop?
Mujuru: No it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair. And, I’m happy because I’ve already started looking for him. This message has gone to him. I’m happy. I even spoke to David Coltart who even gave me very recently where Mr Smith is. Because last year, or, yes, last year, I had asked one of the businesspeople who had an idea of where Mr Smith was because my thinking was, such things have to be discussed, compensation has to be given even if it means I wanted, I want to give him what is due to him. Because, I feel it, I’m also a business person in my own right, I’m a farmer, I know how hard it is, and it’s difficult to really be a real reputable business person and for you to just say I’m taking a farm and you should not get anything. Right now, I can tell you, I am a reputable chicken farmer but it’s hard. So for me to just take it and sit, it’s not nice. I’m ready to work and pay him
Violet: So even generally, in terms of your land policy do you think that this is what you are going to do in general in terms of perhaps having a land audit.
Mujuru: Land audit is a thing that…
Violet: And compensation?
Mujuru: Yes, Compensation has to be done. Land audit has to be done. We had agreed that the policy has to be one man one farm and why would you have more than one and how are you utilising that one is the question that People First is asking. You must have that farm which you are utilising to the fullest, if you are just taking a farm for you to be priding yourself in terms of owning tracts of hectares, that’s not what People First is going to look for. That’s why we are saying we want to rationalise the land issue. And, for anybody who calls Zimbabwe home, they should be afforded land.
Violet: There was a report by journalist Charles Rukuni claiming that your daughter, Nyasha, and her, I guess, her then husband, a Spanish husband, Pedro del Campo, tried to sell $15m worth of blood diamonds allegedly from the DRC and Zimbabwe. What can you say about this?
Mujuru: I think the best thing is to ask people. It’s better to get it from the horse’s mouth. I’m a mother. These were married people. What they were doing when they were in Spain, I don’t know, because they never did it in Zimbabwe, I wasn’t there. But you know when you are a mother and you holding this post it’s like you know everything of what your child does. Like I’m here in London, do I know what happened two days ago when I’m here in London, with my children? I don’t know where they slept, what they ate, whom they met. But these are things that I am asked to vouch for, which is unfair when the people are still alive, when they were fending for their own family. I think the best thing is to ask them, how, when, why and how, you know they should have been able to be cautioned and what have you.
Violet: I think the report was saying that the husband was doing it on behalf of your family
Mujuru: No, they were in Spain, they were not in Zimbabwe. They were in Spain, they were not in Zimbabwe. If they were doing it on behalf of my family, who had sent them because it’s not me, that’s for sure. Who had sent them to do that? That should be asked. We don’t have to look for anybody to come up with answers when the person is still alive.
Violet: Alright, what will it take, let’s talk about the way forward, what will it take to get rid of Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF?
Mujuru: (Laughs) Ehh, why would you want me to release my secrets! That’s never to be divulged! That’s never to be divulged, I’m sorry!
Violet: Some are of the view that you are still resemble the old establishment though so can you please tell the people what you are doing to rebrand yourself because the issue of trust is very strong and people want to trust you but they don’t know how they can trust someone who has been part of the system for a very long time.
Mujuru: Violet, anybody who is 25 years, let me just calculate, 25 years and above was once ZANU PF. Don’t forget, I’m a freedom fighter and I fought under ZANU and worked under ZANU PF and I am telling you there were a lot of things that ZANU and ZANU PF and I am telling you there were a lot of things that ZANU and ZANU PF did which were very good and we are not just going to bury them. For instance, education. How are you going to denigrate education which has done so much wonders, not just in Africa, but here in Europe. How are you going to denigrate what he had done about building clinics, though they are no longer functional, but it was a good thing which he did. It’s the, you know, regression that is now taking place which we are not happy with, it’s the rhetoric, it’s the non committal to certain policy matters that we are not happy with. And I’m saying, as a freedom fighter, I fought for the freedom of every Zimbabwean and when you are persecuting a certain race, or a certain clan or a certain group that is not what I fought for and this is what I hate and this is what People First is complaining about. So yes, it might look like we are alike but I’m telling you, ZANU PF is now persecuting us, to the extent of even beating us, to the extent of even destroying our property. So why would you say I am still ZANU PF? If I was ZANU PF why are they persecuting me and I am telling you, I am going to fight corruption and I’m going to make sure that for everybody who is coming to Zimbabwe to invest ZANU PF is going to witness that People First and Mujuru, as a leader, is going to underwrite for everybody who is coming to invest in Zimbabwe. Why do you want to persecute somebody who wants, one, to make a life, also to make your country live and also to get your government to move on, because there is no government that can move on without business people. So these are the things, and with indigenisation, we are going to emphasise empowerment, because there is no country that does not practice indigenisation, but it’s the way how you do it. You don’t persecute people because they are coming to invest in your country and its now like a way of enriching yourself by now introducing indigenisation percent and indigenisation that as if to try and segregate and separate and what have you. Why would you want to do all those things to try and complicate things which are not supposed to be complicated.
Mujuru: Wow! Bond notes! You are bringing us back to Zimbabwe Dollar! To Zimbabwe Dollar? That’s exactly what people are talking about. You know, ZANU PF and Mugabe did not realise how people had woken up, they now know how they have been short changed over the years. They once did it when they put us up to quintillion and all of a sudden pensioners woke up with nothing to feed on. Right, as we are talking about Bond notes, we already have them, we have those coins, what are they? In Zimbabwe they have been resisted, even taxi drivers don’t want to see them. You go to a supermarket and you are going to be given those coins and you will resist and you will tell them ‘please give me a sucker, a sweet not that thing that you want to give me’. Why? And now they are saying ‘we want to give you a Bond note,’ equivalent for what?
Violet: I just spoke to Tajamuka leader, Linda Masarira who was arrested and spent about two and a half months in prison, and the last few weeks of that time she was in the male section of Chikurubi Maximum Prison. But she says that Zimbabwe now needs a fresh crop of young leaders who were not part of the liberation struggle and you know, people like Didymus Mutasa have failed to deliver and should not be part of a new government. What can you say about this and this is not just her sentiment, but a lot of other people feel it’s time for new fresh blood, what can you say about that?
Mujuru: It’s not a new story to us at People First and to us Didymus Mutasa is part of our elder group and you know a life without elders who will actually tell you ‘there is a pit there, turn right, turn left’, I think it’s a life that is really relegated for a failure. And, we know what Mutasa is capable of doing and what Mutasa is not capable of doing and I’m sure Linda has got her own personal feelings and ideas and her opinion. And we wouldn’t judge, that’s where I think we are different from other parties. People First allows people to you know, vent their feelings, to say their views and if they are worth taking them if they are worth listening to them, why not? And with Linda she is an individual, we really respect her views and her opinion
Violet: And you talked about how education is important to you, you talked about going to school and you recently graduated, you have got a doctorate. Can you confirm that you actually sat for it and also were you in the same class with First Lady Grace Mugabe since she also graduated at the same time at the University of Zimbabwe. Did you see her studying?
Mujuru: It took me 6 years to acquire my PHD please don’t ask me about others I am not interested. Mine I did, 6 years to acquire my PHD, so with others I don’t know.
Violet: Did you see her at all at the University where you were studying?
Mujuru: Maybe we were going there at different times, I don’t know, it’s a big institution.
Violet: And finally Dr Joyce Mujuru, a lot of people have asked if you will apologise to Zimbabweans for being part of the system that has created this crippling crisis in the country what can say about this?
Violet: I am a mother, and like what I said before sitting on the terraces, mingling, discussing, seeing the damage that has gone on surely I think it would take somebody with a heart of a stone not to say it was not right. We definitely… and my doing things right now, is to try and prove to Zimbabweans that I am a human being. I want to still show them that I am still the same Teurai who suffered in the camps, who went for days and nights without food in the cold to liberate Zimbabwe. And by liberating Zimbabwe, I mean liberating these very same people who are still suffering. So I still have to work for them. Not as their President if they don’t like me – no – but to try and change the situation for the good
Violet: That was Doctor Joyce Mujuru speaking to us on the programme Hotseat. Mazvita maningi Mai Mujuru
Mujuru: Ndinotenda Violet
To contact this journalist email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on twitter: @violetgonda – See more at: www.violetgonda.com