By Amelia Johnson|
There was a tense moment at Stodart Hall in Mbare Sunday when police guards loyal to president Robert Mugabe tried to prevent his rival, vice president Joice Mujuru from entering the venue for viewing of the late diplomat Khotsho Dube’s body.
Mujuru angrily told the police guards in Shona, “ibvai apo!” (‘bugger off!’), as her tough-looking Central Intelligence Organisation close security aides reached for their weapons. The police guards immediately relented and Mujuru entered the hall in combative mood. The incident lasted less than a minute but sent a clear message to Mugabe’s overzealous supporters, led by his wife, Grace, that she still commands state power, analysts said.
“If the overzealous militiamen and police officers had gone any further in altering her movements, they would have been shot and there would be no consequences for the vice president and her security team,” said political analyst Chris Mitchell. “In the order of precedence, Mujuru is the second most important official in Zimbabwe after Mugabe and anyone who compromises her security interests can be outed, so to speak.”
Inside the hall, Mujuru’s arch-rival, justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the few ministers present stood up and bowed but she totally ignored them. Instead, she went over and greeted army, police and Central Intelligence Organisation bosses present. She later paid her condolences to members of the late Dube’s family before leaving in her official Toyota Prado.
Members of the Mbare Chimurenga Choir Zanu PF militia sang abuse as Mujuru left but stayed clear of her vehicle.
Last week, Mugabe was stung by Mujuru’s refusal to appear at the Zanu PF congress, where the ageing dictator’s loyalists wanted to lynch her. Defence minister Sidney Sekeramayi was shoved around by party thugs who slapped his wife Tsitsi and kicked her out of the congress venue.
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