News / Africa

    Zimbabwe Vice President Suspicious About Husband’s Death

    Soldiers carry the coffin of former Zimbabwean army general Solomon Mujuru during his funeral at Heroes Acre in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 20, 2011
    Soldiers carry the coffin of former Zimbabwean army general Solomon Mujuru during his funeral at Heroes Acre in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 20, 2011
    Peta Thornycroft

    Joice Mujuru, vice president of Zimbabwe, said she is suspicious about how her husband, Solomon Mujuru, died. Mujuru, former commander of the Zimbabwe security services, was burned to ashes at his farmhouse last week even though he could have easily escaped the fire.

    Shortly after her husband’s remains were found at the farmhouse front door, Joice Mujuru spoke out and said people should not speculate about his death.

    President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, also made a statement, saying that speculation about Mujuru’s death was out of line.

    Probe into death's circumstances

    Since then, police and Mujuru family members have been investigating, and so far, 23 people have been questioned about the fire at the farmhouse about 55 kilometers south of Harare.

    In an interview Tuesday, broadcast on the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Joice Mujuru said she “will not rest” until she finds out how her husband, who she described as a “military man,” had burned to death. She said he could easily have escaped from his bedroom as the unbarred windows were large and low enough to climb through.

    She said her young children regularly climbed through those windows when they stayed at the farm.

    Mujuru said her husband's death had “raised many eyebrows.”

    Solomon Mujuru seized the farm from a prosperous white farmer in 2002 at the height of Mugabe’s so-called land reform program.  Solomon was in the farmhouse alone when a fire broke out in the early morning hours of August 15.

    Police reports say they removed his remains, which were reduced to ashes, from near the front door.

    Mujuru's political actions


    Solomon Mujuru was a member of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. But political analysts, including former members of ZANU-PF’s supreme decision-making body, the Politburo, say he regularly stood up to Mugabe.

    Within the Politburo, he opposed colleagues who said repeatedly they wanted fresh elections this year. After disputed elections in 2008,  Mugabe was forced to accept a unity government with the longtime opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

    The Southern African Development Community, or SADC, which has mediated Zimbabwe's long-running political crisis, has said Zimbabwe is not ready for fresh elections this year.

    Joice Mujuru is one of two vice presidents of Zimbabwe. The other vice president, John Nkomo, is ill and frail. Solomon Mujuru was seen by many political analysts as a possible power broker in Zimbabwe as Mugabe, who is 87, grows frail as well.

    Several top ZANU-PF leaders have died in mysterious circumstances over the years, both before and after the country's 1980 independence.

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