News / Africa

    Controversy Surrounds Inquest Into Former Zimbabwe Army Chief's Death

    Zimbabwean deputy President Joice Mujuru, left, leaves the Harare magistrates court accompanied by her daughter Kumbirai in Harare,  January 17, 2012
    Zimbabwean deputy President Joice Mujuru, left, leaves the Harare magistrates court accompanied by her daughter Kumbirai in Harare, January 17, 2012

    The inquest into the 2011 mysterious fire death of Solomon Mujuru, Zimbabwe’s former army chief and liberation war hero, is hearing testimony from some 40 witnesses. The proceedings in Harare will go into next week - longer than anticipated.  Some controversial and also contradictory evidence on several key issues has marked the inquest this week.

    Rosemary Short, Solomon Mujuru’s housekeeper, testified that the relationship between him and his police security detail had soured and he complained they were reckless - including randomly discharging their weapons.  

    The retired Army chief’s home in Beatrice, south of Harare, was guarded by both police and a private security company. Some question why Mujuru did not escape the fire that that killed him last August with such a protection force.

    Testimony from staff, police and private security this week as was frequently contradictory about the events immediately preceding the fire.

    The guard at the outer perimeter gate said Mujuru arrived home in a light truck, sober and accompanied by a male passenger. But the police officer at the inner perimeter gate testified Mujuru was drunk, alone in the vehicle with a suit draped over the passenger seat.

    One police officer testified that he and two colleagues were actually sleeping before they were alerted to the fire - prompting criticism from widow and Vice President Joice Mujuru.

    “So this person in particular was wrong in sleeping on duty," she accused. "Taking circumstances in which these things happened, it is really shocking. And you say to yourself, is this how a person can discharge himself when he is supposed to do his duty.”

    Vice president Mujuru - speaking outside the inquest venue - also complained that her family and lawyers had not been given access to key court documents until after the inquest began rather than the required 14 days ahead.

    “The concerns were that we were not served with papers that we were supposed to as from yesterday," she noted. "So it is very unfair for a lawyer or for the family to then follow the proceedings. So for them to then continue with whatever supposed to be done, was going to be unfair on the part of the family.”

    There has been speculation that a candle or a cigarette may have caused the fire - that killed Solomon Mujuru, 62, on August 16.

    But housekeeper Short testified Mujuru did not smoke and there were no candles, matches or cigarette lighters in the bedroom - where the blaze is believed to have started.

    His widow and others have said the bedroom had large, low windows and doors with access to the outside -so they cannot understand why he did not escape.

    Testimony continues next week into the death of this hero of Zimbabwe’s liberation war - who had a key role in helping President Robert Mugabe into power. They had a falling out in 2008 - possibly because it became widely accepted that Mujuru was pushing for his wife to replace the aging president.

    Some analysts say that despite her husband’s passing, Joice Mujuru is the only senior member of the ZANU-PF party, including Mugabe, who could actually beat Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a free and fair election.

    The three main parties including the MDC and ZANU-PF have been in a so-called "inclusive" government since 2009.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.