Solomon Mujuru: Widow Joice wants Zimbabwe death probe

  • 24 August 2011
  • From the section Africa
Solomon Mujuru (L) and his wife Joice Mujuru (R), photographed in August 2009
Image caption Solomon (L) and Joice (R) Mujuru both fought in Zimbabwe's 1970s war of independence

Zimbabwe's Vice-President Joice Mujuru has called for an investigation into the death of her husband Solomon last week in a fire on their farm.

An ex-military chief, Gen Mujuru was a highly influential figure in President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

A BBC reporter says his death has fuelled speculation that he may have been killed, causing a party rift and turmoil over Mr Mugabe's succession.

Mrs Mujuru said the farmhouse's many exits meant it was easy to escape fire.


Mrs Mujuru was not at the farm in Beatrice, about 80km (50 miles) south of the capital, Harare, when the fire broke out in the early hours of last Tuesday morning.

In the immediate aftermath of the discovery of her husband's charred remains, she had urged the public to exercise great caution in commenting on the death.

But the BBC's Brian Hungwe in Harare says Mrs Mujuru laid bare her feelings for the first time on national state television on Tuesday evening.

Addressing the national women's football team which had gone to pay their condolences, she looked distraught, he says.

She said she had not been told what happened to her husband between 20:00 when he got home on Monday 15 August until the time the fire allegedly broke out around midnight.

Mrs Mujuru indicated that a military man of her husband's stature could have easily escaped the fire through the many exits, especially those in the bedroom.

"There are two long windows, from my side and from his side, that if you want to go out for an emergency - you don't have to jump out, you just lift your leg," she said.

"Our little grandchildren, we used to joke with them - that instead of coming through the normal door they would jump into our bedroom using those windows."

Under his nom de guerre, Rex Nhongo, Gen Mujuru was the director of Mr Mugabe's forces during the 1970s war of independence.

Our reporter says at the time of his death, he was believed to have been pushing for leadership renewal within Zanu-PF.

There has been fierce rivalry between the Mujurus and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa for control of the party.

He was the only person believed to have had the stature to challenge the 87-year-old Zanu-PF leader during crucial party meetings, our correspondent says.

His wife's remarks come amidst talk of widening rifts within Zanu-PF, which is facing crucial elections next year, he says.

His death has thrown wide open the succession debate, putting President Mugabe in a difficult situation, he adds.

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