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President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has expressed fears that Joice Mujuru, the country’s vice president, is collaborating with the U.S. Embassy in the South African country to plot his assassination. He told more than 10,000 ZANU-PF party members who were gathered in an open field in Harare last Saturday that the vice president has held private meetings with officials of the American Embassy in Harare. He was speaking at a ZANU-PF’s congress meeting. Grace Mugabe, his wife, was elected to lead the party. This election puts her in the top decision-making body of the organization.
He said that he mentored Mujuru over the years and encouraged her to get education. He said that his wife put pressure on him to appoint Mujuru as a vice president in 2004.
The party congress also re-elected the 90-year-old leader to another five-year term as the president of Zanu-PF. It also gave him the mandate to choose his vice president, as well as top party officials. Vice President Joice Mujuru has worked closely with President Mugabe for many years. She was a member of Mugabe’s guerrilla army during the struggle for independence to end the white minority rule in Zimbabwe.
She has served as a member of the cabinet since 1980 when she was 25 years old. As a result of Robert Mugabe fears that she is involved in planning his assassination, she is being treated as a political outcast within ZANU-PF circles. She was removed from her position as the Party’s vice president during the three-day party congress. She continues to serve as Zimbabwe’s vice president. President Mugabe would need Parliament’s approval to remove her from her position.
Jen Psaki, U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said that the United States was a friend of Zimbabwe. She said Mugabe’s allegations on the plot hatched by Zimbabwe’s vice president and the U.S Embassy in Zimbabwe were untrue and did not deserve a response. Robert Mugabe has ruled the South African country since it ended white rule in 1980. He served as the country’s prime minister until 1987 when he abolished the position of the prime minister and consolidated all the powers in the presidency. He has used strong tactics to fend off opposition. He has also tamed the west and European countries that put pressure on him to open the democratic space in the 1990s. During that time, Mugabe dismissed sanctions against Zimbabwe, managing to keep Zimbabwe’s shattered economy afloat.
ZANU -PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo, who was also suspended from his position at the congress, defended vice president Mujuru against the president’s accusations. He said that Mugabe is known to claim that his opponents are planning to assassinate him in order to destroy their political careers. He gave examples of Edgar Tekere, Joshua Nkomo, Simba Makoni, and Morgan Tsvangirai as some of the politicians whose public images were tarnished after he made similar accusations against them
This is not the first time that President Robert Mugabe has expressed his fears about a pending assassination. He has warned those plotting against him in the past with dire consequences. He told ZANU-PF members on Saturday that while he is not opposed to competition, he will not let his opponents eliminate him “the Kabila way.” Laurent Kabila, former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was killed by one of his bodyguards in 2001.
By Benedicto Ateku