VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru yesterday dismissed calls for her to step down as unconstitutional in her first response to First Lady Grace Mugabe's demands for her resignation.

Mujuru finally broke her silence after a report in The Sunday Mail and Sunday News accused her of being linked to an alleged plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe. The VP said she was in the process of taking legal action against the newspapers as she defended her track record.

"To you my fellow citizens I say, that I, Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru, am here to serve the people of Zimbabwe, and the party Zanu PF, that I have always been a member of," she said in a statement last night.

"No amount of malicious, hurtful and false statements about me, my late husband, my family, children, associates or business interests (real or imagined) can deter me from the mission at hand, that is to assist His Excellency President RG Mugabe in driving the social and economic programmes of his government to successful fruition."

She said her position demanded that she remained non-partisan and she was worried about the character assassination by her opponents.

"I regret that certain persons have elected to make false, unsubstantiated, malicious, defamatory and irresponsible statements about me, solely for the purpose of engineering their widespread publication in all forms of media across the world, and bringing the ruling party, Zanu PF, the government and the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, into disrepute," she said.

Mujuru said calls for her resignation were unconstitutional in her first response to Grace's demands that she steps down.

"There has also been an unconstitutional call for my resignation and/or removal from both party and public office, on the spurious grounds that I am 'corrupt', 'a gossiper', 'demonic', 'jealous and divisive', 'inept' and '(that I am) unfit for consumption by flies and dogs. In the interests of party and in keeping with its established protocol, I have previously chosen not to issue any statements," she said.

Mujuru said her response was prompted by the reports alleged that she plotted to assassinate Mugabe.

"I am accused of being involved in an attempt to overthrow the legitimate Zimbabwean government led by His Excellency, the president and first secretary of Zanu PF and commander-in-chief of the defence forces, RG Mugabe. This allegation is wholly untrue and cannot go unchallenged, in the national interest," she said.

Mujuru said she was defending herself "for and on behalf of all current and future national leaders who may face the same problem in future.

She added: "I deny any and all the allegations of treason, corruption, incompetence and misuse of public office being routinely made against me in The Herald and Sunday Mail newspapers. I have briefed my legal practitioners to take the necessary steps, at law, to restore my good reputation, political standing and dignity. I stand ready to defend myself before the party and in any court of law on any of the allegations made against me, at any time, in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe.

"Leaders are elected by the people to serve the people. I am an elected servant of the people of Zimbabwe and as such I can only serve this country in any capacity, when elected by the people. Unbridled ambition, misplaced self-righteous adulation and hubris, offends the Lord and can only lead to the ruin of the person(s), and the party and therefore government," Mujuru said.

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