The former vice president of Zimbabwe, Joice Mujuru, was considered a popular successor to Zimbabwe’s longtime dictator, President Robert Mugabe. Since being expelled from her position in late 2014, she has been working to re-establish herself within Zimbabwe’s political system. As the dust settles on her fallout with the Mugabe administration, here are 12 things you didn’t know about Joice Mujuru.
Sources: NehandaRadio.com, News24.com, Telegraph.co.uk, BBC.com, NewZimbabwe.com
Mujuru is from the Shona ethnic group
Born in Mt. Darwin, Zimbabwe’s northeastern district, Mujuru is Shona, of the Korekore language group. While Mugabe, along with other administration and opposition leaders, are all Shona, they belong to different dialect groups. Mugabe is Zezuru, while Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is Karanga.
She joined the Rhodesian Bush War after just two years in secondary school
Mujuru joined the Rhodesian Bush War after just two years of secondary school. She went on to become one of the first women commanders in the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), the military wing of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) that fought against white minority rule in the Rhodesian Bush War.
Mujuru was known as “Teurai Ropa,” or “spill blood,” as her war name
During the war, Mujuru was known as “Teurai Ropa,” meaning, “spill blood,” as her nom de guerre. At the age of 19, Mujuru is rumored to have downed an enemy helicopter with machine gun fire in 1974, after refusing to flee.
She married the deputy commander-in-chief of the ZANLA
In 1977, Mujuru married Solomon Mujuru, known as “Rex Nhongo” –a name that represented his cunning in battle. At the time he was deputy commander in chief of the ZANLA. They were married until his death in 2011 in a house fire. The circumstances of the fire have been deemed suspicious and were never fully investigated. Since his death, his estate remain in dispute. Matters are complicated by his 20 children with different women and two official wives — Joice Mujuru and Faith Juta.
Mujuru’s home was illegally seized from the farm owner
Mujuru lives on a 3,500-acre requisitioned farm known as Alamein Farm, considered to be a productive and high-value estate 45 miles south of the capital of Harare. The Supreme Court has since ruled that the farm was illegally seized in 2001 from its original owner, Guy Watson-Smith, as part of a land-grab. After the Supreme Court’s decision was made public, Mujuru became the first member of Mugabe’s cabinet to be implicated in the illegal seizure of land and assets.
She served as Mugabe’s vice president for 10 years
Seen as a potential successor to Mugabe, Mujuru served as vice president of Zimbabwe from 2004 to 2014. She had long been a member of the ZANU-PF party, having served as a government minister since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
At the time of independence, Mujuru was the youngest cabinet minister
Born April 15, 1955, Mujuru joined the cabinet in 1980 as minster of sports, youth and recreation. She even continued her secondary school studies during her early years as minister — she’d put them on hold to join in the independence fight.
Mujuru was appointed vice president due to her husband putting pressure on Mugabe
In September 2004, the ZANU-PF Women’s League decided to nominate a female candidate for the party’s vice presidency and chose Mujuru. Mugabe eventually succumbed to pressure from several party factions including one led by Mujuru’s husband to give the post to a woman. Mujuru was sworn in as vice president of Zimbabwe on Dec. 6, 2004. Zimbabwe has a provision for two vice presidents who are appointed by the president.
She was accused of plotting against Mugabe in 2014
In late 2014, Mujuru was fired as vice president of Zimbabwe and as vice president of the ZANU-PF party. She was accused of plotting to remove Mugabe from power, and potentially even have him assassinated, a claim she deemed “ridiculous.” Mujuru was replaced by her longtime rival in the battle for succession to the presidency — Emmerson “The Crocodile” Mnangagwa.
Mujuru was expelled from the ZANU-PF party three months after being dismissed as vice president
In March 2015, the ZANU-PF said it would be expelling Mujuru from the party, citing 10 reasons. Among them, party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo cited allegations of plots to remove Mugabe from office, corruption, bringing the party into disrepute, and lacking “the quality of strong moral principles, honesty and decency.” Along with Mujuru, other top officials considered her allies were also removed from office.
Conflict with First Lady Grace Mugabe is thought to be the driving force behind Mujuru’s downfall
After Grace Mugabe entered into ZANU-PF leadership in early 2014, she launched a battle against Mujuru. Many point to Grace’s ambitions to succeed her husband to the presidency as the reason for viewing Mujuru as a threat. For months leading up to her dismissal, Mujuru was verbally attacked by Mugabe at public rallies, often accused of treason and corruption.
No charges have been filed against Mujuru. The Mugabes and those still in their favor “feared it would appear like they are pursuing a vindictive political agenda” if they pressed charges, according to the ZimbabweIndependent.