HARARE – With a mere three months of the new year gone, 2017 is already turning out to be yet another annus horribilis (horrible year) for former vice president and now leader of the floundering National People’s Party, Joice Mujuru.
Indeed, it’s not just continuing to rain for Mujuru, it’s pouring on all fronts — and we feel for her at a human level.
Consider this. First, her liberation struggle icon husband, Solomon, died in a mysterious inferno at the family’s Beatrice farm in 2011.
And before her tears had even dried, her erstwhile colleagues in the brawling ruling Zanu PF — where for a decade she was number two to President Robert Mugabe — started accusing her and the revered Rex of having plotted against Gushungo.
Then in December 2014, she was hounded out of her political home of more than four decades like a leper — ending up joining hands in the opposition ranks with her former top Zanu PF allies Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo.
Tragically for her, she soon fought with, and then parted ways with Nyati and Madyira in the once promising Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party, resulting in her being forced to launch the fledgling National People’s Party (NPP).
Now, simmering tensions within the one-month-old outfit have already boiled over into deadly violence, with rash party spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire viciously attacking, and then allegedly threatening to kill Mujuru’s party spin doctor, Gift Nyandoro — in disgusting scenes which shocked guests at a Harare hotel on Thursday.
This is awful: For Mujuru, for her family and friends, for her party and for Zimbabwe at large.
But if truth be told, some of her travails have been self-inflected, which calls into question both her political nous and leadership credentials — particularly as some of the misfortunes she has suffered have a familiar ring to them.
Take for example the many dubious characters and political charlatans that she has surrounded herself with over the past few years.
One would have thought that after her painful experiences in Zanu PF, as well as in ZPF, that she would now be choosing her political friends, partners and aides with a fair degree of circumspection.
Alas, this appears to be a wish too far for those who have been rooting for her, hoping against all hope that she — together with the likes of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai — would minimally start pushing Mugabe and Zanu PF to do better in government than they have done in their disastrous 37 years in power.
Indeed, does Mujuru screen her aides at all? If she doesn’t, what does this tell Zimbabweans about her as an aspiring president of our troubled country?
If she hasn’t applied her mind to all this yet, we hope that Thursday’s repulsive events, in which her aides clashed over a reckless statement penned by Mawarire, have finally jolted her to earnestly evaluate her leadership ethos — in her own interest.
Frankly, right-thinking Zimbabweans were surprised when the hot-headed Mawarire launched an astonishing attack on Tsvangirai last weekend, effectively describing the MDC leader as “power drunk” — in the hugely damaging sentiments which Nyandoro later tried to mitigate.
For this, the grieving Nyandoro, whose recently departed mother is still to be buried, paid a high price. By Nyandoro’s account, he received a savage beating at the hands of Mawarire after he rightly said the crass views that Jealousy had articulated were his alone, and not NPP’s.
Meanwhile, and perhaps revealingly about Mujuru’s leadership incapacity, nary a word from her yet over this despicable thuggery by one of her top aides.
And so to the obvious necessary questions for Mujuru as the NPP implodes right in front of her.
Why the silence? Does she condone Mawarire’s use of violence to get his way? Is this also how she wants her NPP colleagues to resolve their differences?
In addition, should we interpret her silence to mean that she condones the use of violence in politics, just as Zanu PF did in all the years that she served at senior level in that party? And is this how the NPP will fight the watershed 2018 elections?
Finally, what lesson does she think this kind of contemptible thuggery holds for ordinary Zimbabweans and other political parties as 2018 beckons?