Harare – Zimbabwe’s beleaguered Vice President Joice Mujuru said on Tuesday she accepted she was “a simple village girl” in a direct answer to President Robert Mugabe’s claim she was too simplistic to be president.
But the phrasing of her retort – avoiding the word “simplistic” – could be a dig at first lady Grace Mugabe, who has also referred to herself as a “village girl”.
“Fellow Zimbabweans, I regret that I must accept one of the allegations – I am a simple village girl from Dotito [northern Zimbabwe],” Mujuru, 59, said in a measured statement, her first words in public since the Zanu-PF national party congress, which she chose to boycott.
She denied claims she had plotted to assassinate the 90-year-old president and said she had never “been motivated by self-interest when discharging my duties”.
“Allegations that I alone or together with various distinguished comrades have sought to or attempted to remove his excellency RG Mugabe from office are ridiculous,” Mujuru said in a statement to the private press.
Analysts say Mujuru is being cut down to size by Mugabe and his wife who feared Mujuru was so popular within the party that she was on the brink of replacing him. She may be replaced as vice president later this week.
Grace Mugabe, who was elected head of Zanu-PF’s powerful women’s league on Saturday, often describes herself as “a village girl”.
In September, she told traditional chiefs: “I am a village girl but we are the queens of this country.”
Mugabe is due to hold a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. It was not clear whether Mujuru will attend.