Zimbabwe VP questions husband's death

AP News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2011 10:03 AM
Zimbabwe VP questions husband's death

Zimbabwe's vice president is questioning how her power-brokering husband died _ fueling suspicions the former army chief may have been killed.

The state-run Herald newspaper Wednesday quotes Vice President Joice Mujuru as saying she wants "satisfactory answers" from an investigation into last week's death of Gen. Solomon Mujuru in a house fire.

She asks why he was unable to escape through bedroom windows so large and low "you don't have to jump out, you just lift your leg."

Newsday newspaper said she found the death "unbelievable" and that it "raised a lot of questions."

The death has intensified infighting in the party of ailing President Robert Mugabe, where the general was a powerful figure who used his military, political and business connections to promote his wife's battle for supremacy.

Gen. Mujuru, 66, a former guerrilla leader and military chief after independence in 1980, was burned beyond recognition in the fire at his farm 60 kilometers (35 miles) southwest of Harare.

Police say they have questioned 23 witnesses who saw the general on the day of the fire, including patrons of a bar he visited on his way to the farm and the three police officers detailed to guard the property.

Experts from the power utility are also compiling a report on whether an electrical fault may have been to blame.

"Why don't we give our experts a chance to do their investigations and make us understand exactly what happened?" Mrs. Mujuru said.

Only full results "will maybe make my heart rest," she added.

Her remarks, also broadcast on state radio and television, were made at a Tuesday meeting with a women's football team who visited her to give their condolences.

The farmhouse of brick and stone had a fire-resistant roof, raising other questions over the intensity of the blaze that caused the virtual cremation of the general's body, witnesses at the scene said.

The general's state funeral on Saturday was not able to follow local tradition in allowing mourners to pay last respects by filing past an open coffin.

Some members of Mrs. Mujuru's faction in the party have suggested arson is to blame.

Workers at the farm said the general, who built a business empire of farms, properties and mining interests after his retirement, had planned to visit a diamond mine in southern Zimbabwe where he held a stake on the day after the fire.

Diamond mining in Zimbabwe is mired in controversy and allegations of violence and corruption.