VICE President Joice Mujuru’s war credentials are no more illustrious than those of her fellow comrades while claims she downed a Rhodesian helicopter are a plain and deliberate lie created by the Zanla forces propaganda wing, a senior Zanu PF official has revealed.
And as the factional fight to take over from President Robert Mugabe intensifies, Mujuru was also told that her “unelected” position as State vice president does not make her ambition for the presidency any more superior to the claims of rivals for the job.
The no-holds-barred remarks were made by war veteran and Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Christopher Mutsvangwa in an interview with The Herald published on Saturday.
A member of the rival faction backing Emmerson Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe, Mutsvangwa exposes as a lie the main grounds for Mujuru’s fame as one of the leading veterans of the country’s liberation struggle and poster girl of the war effort.
Mujuru joined the struggle after completing two years of secondary education and rose up the ranks to become a commander in the Zanla forces.
She is said to have downed a helicopter with a machine gun on 17 February 1974 after refusing to flee with fellow fighters as enemy attack on their positions. She would later say of the incident:
“Incredibly, I hit the machine and there was a lot of black smoke and it crashed. A big explosion followed.”
But Mutsvangwa said the claim was nothing but a huge hoax.
“….Hapana comrade akanga akatakura pfuti mbiri mbiri ari mumwe. Taingove mumwe neimwe … Kupedzisa nekukanda pasi manyepo ekudonhedza helicopter yemuvengi akaumbwa naWebster Shamu kumupembedza kutiabviswe kuvamwe macomrades. Ngatisanyengedzwe nePovho nemagwara atavakudyidzana nawo mushure mekupera kwehondo yerusununguko. (“…There was no comrade who carried two guns, we all had one gun each….Let me finish by putting down the lies about downing an enemy helicopter which were developed by Webster Shamu in a bid to shore-up (Mujuru’s) war credentials and elevate her above fellow comrades. Let’s be careful not to be misled by ordinary people and war cowards we only started working with after the liberation war.”) No war cadre carried to guns by themselves; we all had one gun each….”
Mujuru’s claim she shot down the chopper, dismissed as a fudge by the Rhodesian security services, has never been independently verified.
At independence in 1980, Mujuru became Mugabe’s youngest cabinet minister and has remained in cabinet since, rising to vice president in 2004.
But Mutsvangwa said she owed her cabinet career not to any exceptional talents but to Mugabe’s enduring grace.
“A word of advice to her: We all know each other as comrades from the shared war effort. She should not be deceived by the post-independence titles of office. She was accorded them much later in our shared lives,” said the tough-talking Mnangagwa ally.
“I emphasize I speak as a war veteran from the 1973-78 generation which went on to accord the national liberation war that critical mass and qualitative leap to dispense with racist colonial Rhodesia.”
He also warned key Mujuru ally, Didymus Mutasa who she accused of masterminding a conspiracy aimed at undermining Mugabe.
“In a scheme that sidesteps fellow comrades who fought alongside her, there is some coaxing at instigation of Mutasa and cohorts on VP Mujuru to make her challenge H.E, Mugabe,” he said
“This conspiracy is directed at the man who has given VP Mujuru post-independence high offices from the onset of the Republic, an honour and recognition that has not been accorded to (any) of her peers.
“Mutasa is busy misleading the gullible and the ambitious that he is kingmaker. Yet he only has his vacuous war record to offer. He will surely fail and the blinking followers will only end up in trouble courtesy of their folly.”