By Harry Fisher|
Now Daily Investigation|
The ‘beef’ between Grace Mugabe, Joice Mujuru and Oppah Muchinguri is more than just about corruption, incompetence and assassination plots. Sex is at the centre of it and Zimbabweans are being made the unwilling audience in this theatre of debauchery, adultery and thievery as the three women tear each other apart to win the heart of the 91 year-old sexist dictator.
And for Grace and Mujuru, its not only about the ailing Mugabe, but also about James Makamba, the man referred to as the ‘first boyfriend’ because of his alleged affair with the first lady and a soulmate of the vice president, who was related to her late husband, General Solomon Mujuru.
During the 1970s guerilla insurgency that led up to Zimbabwe’s independence, thousands of young girls were abducted Boko Haram-style from schools around the country by the brutal Zanla army. Branded ‘chimbwido’, the girls became sex slaves, couriers and spies for the guerillas. Among the young girls was Runaida Mugari, an 18 year-old who was kidnapped from her home in Mount Darwin, north eastern Zimbabwe.
Runaida was not only attractive – light-skinned with a toothy smile – she was also a ferocious fighter. Having downed a Rhodesian helicopter, she earned the nom de guerre Teurai Ropa (meaning to shed blood) and was promoted to the general staff of Zanla in 1974. When
Mugabe was released from jail and crossed into Mozambique to lead Zanla, he found the young guerilla, Teurai Ropa, very attractive. After she made up to him, he ensured that she was promoted to commander of Chimoio camp. According to fellow fighters who were at Chimoio at that time, at 21, Teurai Ropa was too young and too inexperienced to deserve the post. It was obvious she was being promoted so that she could be closer to the ‘chef’. By 1977, when Mugabe left Mozambique, he had promoted her to the central committee of Zanu. Since female fighters were routinely raped by commanders and fellow comrades, Mugabe left Teurai Ropa under the care of Rex Nhongo (Solomon Mujuru), the deputy commander of Zanla. But Nhongo had had her before and as soon as Mugabe left, he married her.
At independence in 1980, questions were raised when Mugabe appointed 25 year-old Teurai Ropa Nhongo to cabinet as the youngest minister, in charge of youth, sport and recreation. By 1985, Mugabe needed her closer to him and he appointed her to minister of state in the prime minister’s office.
According to a senior Zanu PF source, when General Nhongo/Mujuru discovered that his wife was still going out with her boss, he was furious.
“Mujuru wanted to end the marriage there and then, but Mugabe prevented him. Mugabe told Mujuru that a divorce wouldn’t look good in the eyes of other party cadres, so they had to put up pretences until Mujuru died. However, it was known that Mujuru and his wife were separated. In fact, Mujuru had a string of mistresses, but Joice paid no attention to them. She knew that what she had been forced to do was unforgivable, but she had to be content with keeping the Mujuru name because that’s where she derived her power,” said a former Zanu PF central committee member who counselled General Mujuru when he wanted to divorce his wife over the adultery allegations.
But the grudge between Mujuru and Mugabe over Joice did not end until the retired general died in a mystery fire on 15 August 2011. In 2004, Gen. Mujuru demanded and got the concession to have his wife promoted to vice president, and Mugabe cleverly promised her that she could land the top job when he left office. But by 2006, Gen. Mujuru was clearly frustrated that Mugabe was not about to leave office. Mujuru openly told Mugabe to go, during a party conference in Goromonzi. Later, Mujuru collared Mugabe over the same issue, during a politburo meeting and threatened to shoot him.
Having failed to secure Simba Makoni’s nomination as the Zanu PF candidate during the 2008 elections, Mujuru bankrolled the formation of the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party.
While Grace Mugabe has accused Joice Mujuru of recent corruption, the fact is, she has never been far from scandal. When she briefly served as minister of information, posts and telecommunications in 1996-97, she publicly snubbed then vice president Joshua Nkomo and ignored his instruction to give a mobile phone licence to Strive Masiyiwa of Econet, now Zimbabwe’s largest cellphone company. Instead, she gave the licence to Telecel, owned by a Congolese and having among its shareholders Mugabe’s nephew Leo Mugabe and James Makamba, a relative of Gen. Mujuru and his business front, to whom Joice Mujuru was unusually close. It was the same Makamba who was jailed by Mugabe for months after the ruthless dictator was told that the businessman was going out with his wife, Grace.
Another major scandal which Mugabe ignored involved the attempt by Mujuru to sell 3.7 tonnes of gold and diamonds ($15m)to Firstar, violating EU sanctions.
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