Fidelis Munyoro Senior Writer
ZimPF leader Dr Joice Mujuru has a lot to be grateful to President Mugabe who transformed her from a nonentity to a respectable political figure in the country’s history, Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba said yesterday.
Mr Charamba was responding to Dr Mujuru’s attack on President Mugabe in Tuesday’s edition of NewsDay in which she brazenly claimed that her late husband, General Solomon Mujuru, “hand-picked” President Mugabe to lead Zanu-PF at the height of the liberation struggle.
History, Mr Charamba said, shows that following the tragic assassination of Zanu Chairman Cde Herbert Wiltshire Hamandishe Chitepo by Rhodesian agents on March 18, 1975, the Zanu leadership held a crisis meeting in Highfield, Salisbury.
“That meeting directed that Cde Mugabe, as Secretary General, accompanied by the late Cde Edgar Zivanai Tekere, promptly leave the country to lead the liberation struggle following the said death and the crisis that followed which threatened to derail the struggle. The decision was thus of the Party, Zanu, and was taken inside the then Rhodesia, in the interest of furthering the liberation struggle. Needless to say trained cadres who included Cde Rex Nhongo (Dr Mujuru’s husband) could not have been at that meeting, or in the country,’’ he said.
After independence President Mugabe, then Prime Minister, appointed Dr Mujuru as a minister of Government.
He said Dr Mujuru by her own admission, felt ill-equipped and undeserving of the appointment, but only obliged on the insistence of President Mugabe who hand-held her all the way, including helping her resume her schooling within the precincts of Zimbabwe House.
“She has a lot to be grateful for to the man she now vilifies,” Mr Charamba said.
“These are the hard facts of history which cannot be wished away, or manipulated to manufacture false profiles. Or used to invent unmerited political importance, whether in the past, now or in future. Equally, readers expect newspapers to know and respect facts of our history, and never to be accessories in its falsification.”
Mr Charamba said the NewsDay article headlined, “Mugabe is ungrateful: Mujuru” preposterously sought to rewrite history in the vain hope of a hard-to-achieve political gain.
He said the ZimPF leader should take her time to brief her spokesperson, the green Gift Nyandoro, factually and accurately on well-known matters of history before the issuance of statements.
“Those who provoke history are sure to reap grief from offended facts,” said Mr Charamba.
He chronicled President Mugabe’s formal involvement in party politics from 1960 when he joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) after his recall from Ghana when he was elected its Publicity Secretary at the party’s inaugural Congress whose proceedings he chaired.
By then Dr Mujuru was a small girl barely five years old.
Mr Charamba said there was no Zanu-PF at the height of the liberation struggle. Only Zanu and its military wing, Zanla, contrary to Dr Mujuru’s claims.
“Zanu-PF” as an acronym only emerged and came into usage just before the inaugural elections of 1980, when the late Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole challenged the party’s use of both the acronym “Zanu”, and the symbol of the Great Zimbabwe, an application which an all Rhodesian Bench expectedly granted.
He said the second time the acronym came into use, albeit with a different meaning and without brackets, was after the signing of the historic Unity Accord of 1987, which brought together the two former liberation movements, Zanu (PF) and PF Zapu.
“Teurai Ropa Nhongo, later on Joice Teurai Ropa Runaida Mujuru, was near and mature enough to know about both developments,” said Cde Charamba.
“Secondly, President Mugabe’s formal involvement in party politics dates back to 1960 when he joined the National Democratic Party (NDP) after his recall from Ghana.”
President Mugabe, he said, was elected NDP publicity secretary at its inaugural Congress whose proceedings he chaired.
“At that time Joice Runaida Mugari, was a small girl of nearly five,” he said. “Solomon Ruzambo Tapfumaneyi Mutusva Mujuru, the man who was later to become her husband, was still in primary school in the then Charter District, now Chikomba District.”
Cde Charamba said between 1963 and 1974, President Mugabe was not only active in politics, but also suffered countless restrictions, detentions and imprisonment.
President Mugabe, he added, spent 11 years in prison for his nationalist activism. He said at the time of President Mugabe’s release from prison, Dr Mujuru was in Zambia, where she stayed with the late Cde Josiah Magama Tongora’s family.
This, he said, was after her evacuation to that country in late 1973, after a battle in the Dotito area, which claimed the life of Cde Joseph Chipembere, the commander of a group of freedom fighters who recruited her.
“The battle, and especially the death of Cde Chipembere with whom she was involved, left her traumatised and had to be evacuated to Zambia on a makeshift stretcher,” said Cde Charamba.
“In Zambia she was put under the special care of Amai Tongogara, whose medical background was invaluable to her recovery.”
He said a handful of cadres who either survived that battle or were involved with her evacuation to Chifombo, were still alive and ready to give testimony.