The Sunday Mail
Opposition leader Dr Joice Mujuru was at the periphery of the Second Chimurenga, primarily rising through the ranks via a combination of benevolence and her romantic liaisons, senior struggle stalwarts have revealed.
Over the past two weeks, Dr Mujuru — who was sacked as Zimbabwe’s and Zanu-PF’s Vice-President in 2014 — has been disparaging liberation war heroes and belittling President Mugabe.
This has prompted several struggle veterans to break their silence about how she joined the war — and the picture is a far cry from the one she and her acolytes have been painting.
Cde George Rutanhire, a member of Zanla’s General Staff, narrated Dr Mujuru’s history.
“Joice Runaida Mugari was a teenage chimbwido (a term used to describe civilian girls who ran errands in aid of combatants) in the Chahwanda area of Mashonaland Central.
“In 1973, a group of guerrillas under the command of Cde Joseph Chipembere and including the likes of Cdes Mhukayesango, Cephas Tichatonga and Dick Joboringo, among others, were in that area.
“The chimbwidos prepared food for Cde Chipembere and his comrades. Cde Chipembere became interested in Runaida and they became intimate when he finished eating.
“But during the war, we had (rules and warnings) against sleeping with girls or women under such circumstances. Whilst other comrades were relaxing, Joice and Cde Chipembere took that opportunity to enjoy the forbidden fruit.
“During the intercourse, a battle broke out (with Rhodesian forces) and Cde Chipembere fought the better part of that battle whilst he was naked.
“This nonsense that (Dr Mujuru) brought down a helicopter – I don’t know where people got that from. It was Cde Chipembere who did that, and unfortunately he was a casualty of that battle.
“But yes, she was there as a chimbwido with other girls. All the civilians at that battle survived and Cde Joboringo is one of the survivors.”
Cde Rutanhire said after the battle, the guerrilla survivors were uncomfortable leaving their civilian counterparts behind and “that’s how people like Mai Mujuru ended up in Zambia”.
He went on: “Akaurayisa vanhu mukadzi iyeyu nenyaya yake yekuda varume . . . and we had comrades vaiita musikanzwa and unfortunately a commander, Cde Chipembere, was one of them.”
Cde Rutanhire said the young Joice was “carried on a stretcher to Zambia because, apart from her being lazy, some comrades felt anga ari musikana washefu so they were supposed to take care of her”.
He said one of the cadres who carried her on the stretcher was Cde Joboringo, real name Cde Luke Mushore, the National Assembly representative for Muzarabani North.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail in 2013, Cde Mushore said, “I am the one who took Mai Mujuru from her home area near Dotito. This was at the end of 1973.
“At the time, she had a big body and so when we were about to leave, some comrades said that we should leave her. As the commander, I stood my ground and said no, we were going with her.”
Cde Rutanhire’s narrative continued thus: “Whilst she was in Zambia, barely a year after aurayisa vanhu, she was already in a relationship with Cde Timothy Gutura.
“I got to know these details because when they came to the rear, they had to explain what happened and write reports, and I was a commander in the Commissariat.
“Whilst she was having a relationship with Cde Gutura, then came Cde Rex Nhongo (General Solomon Mujuru). After training, she was never deployed to the front because, remember, she was now married to Mujuru.
“After Cde Nhongo discovered that Cde Gutura and Runaida were having an affair, Cde Gutura was always deployed to the front. Even when he brought reports, he was quickly sent back until 1980.
“After Independence, many people joined the military but Cde Gutura was never allowed to join our State institutions. It’s sad considering the fact that he was a member of the Zanla General Staff.”
Cde Gutura passed away in 2012 and “he died a bitter man … in fact, he died a pauper”, recounted Cde Rutanhire.
Cde Susan Rutanhire, wife of Cde George Rutanhire, confirmed to us that she was one of Dr Mujuru’s training instructors.
And President Mugabe’s Press Secretary, Mr George Charamba, last week said, “At the time of Cde Mugabe’s release from prison (in 1974), Joice was now in Zambia, staying with the family of the late Cde Josiah Magama Tongogora, following her evacuation to that country in late 1973 after a battle in the Dotito area which claimed the life of Cde Joseph Chipembere…
“The battle, and especially the death of Cde Chipembere with whom she was involved, left her traumatised and she had to be evacuated to Zambia on a makeshift stretcher.
“… A handful of cadres who either survived this battle, or were involved with her evacuation to Chifombo, are still alive and ready to give testimony.”
Many of these facts were confirmed by a very senior war veteran, who declined to be named.
He told The Sunday Mail: “Around 1973, in October or November, Runaida was serving a group led by the late Cde Joseph Chipembere, his brother is still around. He is Cde Khumalo and he was a member of the Zanla High Command.
“There was some intimacy between Cde Chipembere and Runaida but they were cut short by an attack. Cde Chipembere brought down the helicopter but unfortunately he died there.”
The war-time commander said the survivors did not want to leave the young Joice and company behind in case a Rhodesian reconnaissance team got hold of them and so they returned to Zambia with them.
In Zambia, he said, General Josiah Magama Tongogara took an interest in her as she was traumatised by the battle, Cde Chipembere’s death and the journey to the rear.
“She was taken by Cde Tongo to go and stay with Mai Hondo, Cde Angeline Tongogara, the wife of the late general. She looked after the children and there was already Hondo, Tichafa and Bvumai. There was also Sukai; I think she is now with the Anti-Corruption Commission.
“Sukai is the daughter of the brother to the late Cde Tongo, Michael, who is now late. That’s where Runaida was to meet General Mujuru, just before the death of Chairman (Herbert) Chitepo. If I am not mistaken, it should be 1974 or early 1975 when Runaida went to Chimbi-Chimbi for training, I think for about two weeks.”
He said when Gen Mujuru and Joice had their daughter, Kumbirai, she, too, was left in Mai Hondo’s care in Zambia, along with her cousin, Maidei, and then another daughter, Charity.
“Around 1978, Runaida was now in the national executive under the leadership of President Mugabe. In all the structures, we had women so that we could have equal representation.
“In the High Command, we had Sheba Tavarwisa. I think she was the only female member of the High Command. She’s now late.”
He said Gen Mujuru gave a cow to Cde Angeline Tongogara soon after Cde Edgar Tekere’s death in June 2011 as a token of appreciation for all she had done for him and his family since the Second Chimurenga.
But Dr Mujuru, noted Cde George Rutanhire, had never shown gratitude to the people who had assisted her.
“There are many comrades who died paupers and some are languishing in poverty yet their contribution to the Independence and development of the country is immeasurable.
“It’s wrong for Runaida to spit at the struggle and those who perished. She must just shut up or continue with her treacherous politics because deep down in her heart, she knows that President Mugabe lifted her from nothing to the Presidium; but because she is not patient, she ended up selling out.
“She must give us a break. If she continues to spit at the struggle, I can assure you she will be cursed, midzimu inoramba.
“She is fully aware that thousands of young people sacrificed their lives for this country but iye, because ainyengwa nemashefu, she was never deployed to the warfront.
“At least she must respect those who died, including those vaakaurayisa nenyaya yake yekuda varume. What she is doing is not right. Kuti imari? One can’t understand. Were it not for President Mugabe, she would be no one. I think ndiye munhu akaitwa minister asina kana chaaiziva.
“We have so many comrades who were intelligent and brave, good enough to serve as Cabinet ministers but they never got that opportunity. My advice to her is please be grateful. Zvinotirwadza.”