Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
ZIMBABWE National Liberation War Veterans Association national chairperson Cde Jabulani Sibanda has all but sensationally confirmed that corruption and extortion allegations being levelled against Vice President Joice Mujuru are true, legal analysts have said. The analysts said Cde Sibanda effectively admitted that the allegations are true in an interview with NewsDay yesterday when he was reported to have said it was wrong for the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and other Zanu-PF officials to publicly criticise VP Mujuru for “crimes” which were allegedly committed by her late husband Retired General Solomon Mujuru.
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This, analysts have said, was a telling even if tacit confirmation that Vice President Mujuru’s hands might not be clean after all, since they were running a family business with her husband where she would be conversant on how equity would have been acquired in companies in which they had a pecuniary interest, and since she has inherited the late General Mujuru’s entire estate.
“If President Mugabe does wrong, l won’t insult Grace Mugabe.
“So you can’t insult Joice Mujuru because she is not Solomon Mujuru who they accuse of all those things. You can’t attack MaNdlovu my wife because of my wrongs,” Cde Sibanda was quoted as saying by NewsDay.
In an interview last night, respected Harare lawyer and legislator Mr Jonathan Samkange said what Cde Sibanda was saying constituted a confession that what VP Mujuru was doing was not consistent with the law.
“Yes, it is a confession of wrongdoing by the family,” he said. “If she did not agree with what was done by her husband she would come out in the open to say this is what happened and dissociate herself from such conduct. She had that opportunity to dissociate herself, but she has up to now not done that.”
Another Harare lawyer who preferred anonymity for fear of jeopardising his chances in today’s interviews to be considered as a High Court judge concurred with Mr Samkange.
“What Cde Sibanda is simply telling us is that his principal, which he so adores despite her inevitable fall, was equally guilty by association,” said the lawyer. “It is common cause that this was a family business and Vice President Mujuru would obviously know that people were being extorted and she has not distanced herself from that.”
Political analyst Goodwine Mureriwa said what the First Lady said against VP Mujuru could not just be dismissed as baseless.
He said the allegations had far reaching implications if people were to go to the bottom of the matter.
“These allegations should be taken seriously,” he said. “There are serious legal implications. That is why the Politburo wants Cde Oppah Muchinguri to give them a report. Cde Sibanda should allow party organs to handle them.”
Amai Mugabe has levelled allegations of illicit diamond dealings, extortion, and bribery against VP Mujuru, saying she had been extorting 10 percent shareholding in several companies.
VP Mujuru has also been accused of fanning factionalism in her bid to oust President Mugabe in office.
In his first public comment on the diamond fever that gripped Zimbabwe in 2007, President Mugabe said key players in the precious stones saga were the same figures behind machinations to nudge him from office.
In an interview with ZBCTv ahead of his 83rd birthday in February 2007, the President said he disapproved of senior Zanu-PF members involved in the diamond trade, saying it was an industry where “suspicion could easily be raised.”
“They joined (diamond mining) openly, they said yes, we have shares. But you see, it is the sense of doing it, kuti unozosvika pakuita izvozvo uri member yePolitburo kunobatana nemabhunhu arikutsvaga mari, zvamboita sei (How do you become involved in this sort of thing when you are a Politburo member, partnering white businessmen, why?).
Although no names were mentioned, the VP’s late husband, Rtd Gen Solomon Mujuru was the only Politburo member who was then known publicly to have an interest in diamonds.
Apart from having an interest in Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR), the late Rtd Gen Mujuru also held a significant state in River Ranch Limited through his Khupukile Investments, on whose board the former army general sat.
His legal counsel at River Ranch Limited was George Smith, a retired judge who served under both Ian Smith and President Mugabe as Cabinet secretary.
Smith was appointed to the bench in 1984 and was the only white judge left on the bench when he retired in 2003.