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IN a brazen act of defiance, Vice-President Joice Mujuru yesterday described as ridiculous and unfounded allegations that she was part of a cabal within Zanu PF that was pushing to topple President Robert Mugabe.

Mujuru said she did not attend the party's just-ended congress, as a clique within Zanu PF had threatened her life.

In a veiled attack on Mugabe, Mujuru said she accepted that she was a simple village girl from Dotito, a quality that enabled her to relate with the common people and the challenges they faced.

She said instead of fighting her, Zimbabweans were crying out for solutions to the simple problems that were bedevilling them.

"There are a few practical truths that I must share, which I appreciate all the time," she said in her second statement since a public onslaught on her.

"Zimbabweans are crying out for solutions to the simple problems we have; how to put food on the table; how to obtain healthcare; sending our children to school; providing transport for them and restoring the transport infrastructure; keeping our cities clean and restoring electricity to all urban households together with clean running water. It is these simple problems that I have dedicated my life and career to and will continue to pursue."

Many had expected Mujuru to be ousted at the Zanu PF congress last week, which she did not attend, saying her sacking was now inevitable following being dropped from the party's central committee and ultimately the politburo.

Mugabe last week accused his deputy, whom he described as "a simplistic woman" who did not have the capacity to lead, of plotting to kill him and using witchcraft in a plot to unseat him.

Mujuru said Zimbabwean women were legally and constitutionally equal citizens to men and hence should not be derided or treated as second-class citizens in a society which was supposed to be modern and progressive.

However, a top government official, who declined to be named yesterday said Mujuru was simply trying to mobilise women and the generality of Zimbabweans to her cause.

"She's trying to project herself as an alternative power to the president. She has been in the government since 1980, but now wants to project herself as an alternative within the ruling Zanu PF; that she is determined and can deal with the so-called simple challenges Zimbabweans are facing. I wonder whether what she is saying will help her in any way. In fact, she's becoming even more vulnerable," he said.

The vice-president said in the run-up to the Zanu PF congress "the forces at work in the party" launched a frenzied vilification campaign against her after realising that she was not going to resign from her public and party positions "on flimsy or contrived grounds".

New Zanu PF women's league boss First Lady Grace called for Mujuru's resignation during her national whirlwind tour, accusing her of corruption.

In her statement, Mujuru said the campaign eventually coalesced into direct threats on her life.

"Therefore, their strategy moved from being one of persistent denigration and defamation in the national State media and newspapers, to one of direct threats against my person and life," she said.

Mujuru added that her party agents were unlawfully hindered from submitting her nomination papers for the congress and she decided not to attend the indaba as she feared for her life.

"I decided to stay away from the inevitable public humiliation as was meted out to other unfortunate members of the party," she said.

"I made my fears known to the party leadership. It was important to maintain the dignity of the office of the vice-president even in the face of such unwarranted violence by a section of the party membership."

Mujuru denied being involved in any criminal activity as alleged, saying there were flimsy attempts to link her to the alleged criminal actions of people she associated with in what she described as "a well-orchestrated smear campaign".

She said she was grateful to God that she was still alive despite threats against her. The vice-president said Mugabe had been told a "pack of lies" about her especially that she was out to assassinate him.

"As a law abiding citizen of Zimbabwe, I abhor the very notion that an elected president or government of the day can be removed from office through wrongful or unlawful means," she said.

"The allegations that I, alone, or (together with various distinguished comrades) have sought to or attempted to remove His Excellency R G Mugabe from office are ridiculous."

The vice-president said Zanu PF party had been infiltrated by a cabal of individuals out to destroy it from within and the fact that she questioned such developments had led to the assassination of her character in the State media.

"A vociferous attempt has been made to portray me as 'a traitor', 'murderer' and 'sellout', yet not a single iota of evidence has been produced to give credence to the allegations," she said.

Mujuru dismissed the allegations of witchcraft levelled against her and described herself as a God-fearing person and could not have used witchcraft to advance her political career because political power was derived from the people.

She said she had an illustrious career in Zanu PF and government and had carried out duties including campaigning for the ruling party in national elections, attending 43 campaign rallies all over Zimbabwe over a three–week period last year.

Mujuru said she did that at great personal expense, "happily losing 4kg in that period" and played a key role in the results of the 2013 elections.

The vice-president said it did not make sense that she would be accused of ineptitude only a few weeks before the party's congress when she had been vice-president for the last 10 years.

On allegations that she had consulted apostolic sects in her bid to wrest power from Mugabe, Mujuru said she had been invited to be patron of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe, which represents at least 700 apostolic Christian churches in Zimbabwe, "as long ago as January 2011".

"This was with the full consent and blessing of His Excellency. I have, since then, with the full knowledge of the head of State, attended numerous church gatherings, as patron and also as vice-president. There have never been any clandestine or unlawful gatherings that I have been a part of," she said.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba last night said if Mujuru's statement was addressed to the president, she knew the appropriate channels.

"This is an open statement with no particular addressee, still less His Excellency the president. If the writer meant to communicate anything to the president at all, having been in government since 1980, she would have used the appropriate channels. Her communication is of no consequence to the president and, therefore, I cannot register a reaction on his behalf," he said.

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