Brian Chitemba and Norman Muchemwa
The extraordinary is happening behind the scenes: former President Robert Mugabe could be in the process of shaping an opposition political party that could feature his ex-deputy Dr Joice Mujuru and his wife, Mrs Grace Mugabe, among its leading lights.
Insiders privy to developments say a meeting last week between the Mugabes and Dr Mujuru was the first step towards creation of an opposition coalition largely populated by G40 cabalists who have been in disarray since the November 2017 Operation Restore Legacy ended their ambition of grabbing the reins of power.
The cabalists have been circulating a “consultation points” document in a bid to rally support for the fledgling project, which the ruling Zanu-PF says will not cause them any sleepless nights ahead of national elections constitutionally scheduled for this year.
Among other things, the document wants to build consensus around possible postponement of the elections while a “transitional authority” holds State power.
They also want Sadc or the African Union to deploy military troops in Zimbabwe to pave way for their “transitional authority” — something highly unlikely seeing as the continental bloc’s Summit just two weeks ago welcomed President Emmerson Mnangagwa as one of its two newest members, along with Liberia’s President George Weah.
Last week, ex-President Mugabe reportedly apologised to Dr Mujuru — who leads the National People’s Party — for sacking her as his deputy in 2014. He is said to have given his blessing to the creation of an opposition political party that will bring together G40 and the NPP.
It is understood he advised Dr Mujuru to work with sacked ministers Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao, Edgar Mbwembwe and Paddy Zhanda, among others.
Former Member of Parliament Dr Daniel Shumba and ex-Zanu-PF Harare Youth League chair Mr Jim Kunaka are also said to be in the mix.
The Sunday Mail understands Dr Mujuru was scheduled to fly to Cape Town, South Africa at the weekend to thrash out the scheme with her new-found buddies.
Dr Mujuru, Prof Moyo and Messrs Zhuwao and Zhanda could not be reached for comment.
Mr Mbwembwe tried to distance himself from it all saying, “I have been out of Harare for more than a week, doing my constituency work. I don’t know anything about what you are talking about. Maybe you guys in Harare can give me details of what is transpiring.”
Mr Kunaka said: “I am not aware of the new political party project. There could be some people with a hidden agenda. I don’t play hide-and-seek. I do things in the open.”
Earlier, Dr Mujuru had told a Washington-based radio station: “I went to speak to (Cde Mugabe). . . He invited me there himself. If you were to be invited by VaMugabe would you say no?”
She said the former leader wanted them to “work well together”.
Intelligence sources said all indications were that the G40 cabal still had a grip on Cde Mugabe’s decision-making through Mrs Mugabe.
“The initial plan was to have Grace lead the party, but then the name Joice Mujuru came up as a compromise because Grace’s political activities are still fresh in the minds of the nation.
“‘New Patriotic Front’ has been brandished as a possible brand because the idea is to make it appear that this project is indigenous and Pan-African.
“A document has been crafted to that effect; to extol the virtues of Zimbabwe’s heroes because that is how a people comes together, around its heroes and myths. They will try to push forward the names of national heroes, which is where Mujuru comes in, even as they try to put back on track what is largely a self-serving agenda to grab power at all costs.”
Dr Mujuru was married to national hero General Solomon Mujuru.
Another source said, “Mujuru is just a pawn in this game which is tailored to upstage President Mnangagwa’s administration. Why is Jonathan suddenly posting positive comments about Mujuru, whose intellectual capacity he has long questioned and whose leadership he has always disparaged? Why is he calling the meeting (between the Mugabes and Dr Mujuru) ‘game-changing’?
“These guys are going around saying they have bought 300 vehicles that will be used for campaigns. That’s not true. Some of the vehicles in question were purchased when (Ignatius) Chombo was still (Home Affairs) Minister and these were for chiefs. They are trying to create an impression that they are organised and well-funded when that is not the case.”
Zanu-PF Politburo member and war veterans chair Cde Victor Matemadanda said the G40 cabal was free to form a political party as the Constitution provides for such rights.
“One thing people like Zhuwao should not forget is that Zimbabwe is in a mess right now because of his uncle (cde Mugabe) and the cabal that made Zimbabweans suffer because of corruption and neglecting developmental issues.
“Every Zimbabwean is battling economic hardships. It won’t be easy to forgive G40. Imbwa ikadzingwa mumusha inoyenda kunohukura iri kunze kwemusha yakatarisa mumusha, but ikawona kuti vanhu vandiramba, inofuratira yotarisa musango yoenda ichihukura nesango. That is exactly what Zhuwao and his team are doing.”
Zanu-PF National Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Pupurai Togarepi said the ruling party was ready for all comers.
“As far as we are concerned, this is a grouping of misguided elements who are all failures. Zanu-PF is too strong and as the Youth League we are not bothered. We should not lose sleep over (them). We are waiting for them and in elections we will show them what we are made of,” said Cde Togarepi.
A political analyst said G40’s intention was to dilute Zanu-PF’s vote and block President Mnangagwa from getting 50 percent-plus-one of ballots needed to make him a first round winner of the Presidential race.
“The Zhuwawos and Jonathans know that they will not win any election. They are just making noise in the hope of splitting the vote,” he said.
Political analyst Mr Godwin Mureriwa weighed in, “Mugabe engaging Mujuru is a sign of desperation. He is trying to seek relevance and also trying to use tribal Zezuru politics but Zimbabweans are not that foolish. What Mugabe must know is that Zimbabweans are tired of him and nobody wants him to be involved in our politics again.
“They know that President Mnangagwa has the of the majority of the people of Zimbabwe, who are behind him because he is working hard to improve the economy.”
Other citizens, too, are not amused with the evolving project.
Harare resident Miss Blessing Nyengera said, “What makes them think we can gracefully accept Grace Mugabe back in our lives? No one in his or her right senses can trully associate himself/herself with G40 given the way they made us suffer as they looted the country’s resources for their own benefit.”
Mr Tendai Ngwerume of Chitungwiza added: “The country is moving in the right direction under the new dispensation. A lot of positive changes are already in progress under President Emmerson Mnangagwa. What makes G40 think we have forgotten their cruelty?”
But it is not just about G40, Mrs Mugabe or Dr Mujuru: Cde Mugabe himself could – hypothetically – stand as the envisaged project’s Presidential candidate.
Constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku explained: “Former President Mugabe served one term and he can still contest an election although I don’t see that happening. He still enjoys his rights to take part in any political process; the law is very clear on that.”
Section 103 of the Constitution says, “The President and Vice-Presidents, and any former President or Vice President, must not, directly or indirectly, hold any other public office or be employed by anyone else while they are in office or are receiving a pension from the State as former President or Vice President, as the case may be.”
However, such a move could see Cde Mugabe lose the goodwill he has enjoyed from President Mnangagwa’s administration, which has largely sought to treat him with dignity as a former Head of State despite his last years in office being hijacked by the G40 cabal’s machinations.