Fungi Kwaramba 12 February 2017
HARARE – Embattled former Vice President and Zimbabwe People First (ZPF)
interim leader Joice Mujuru is contemplating forming a new party after the
fledgling political outfit’s founding fathers claimed they owned the
troubled party and all its image rights.
ZPF insiders who spoke to the Daily News on Friday said the latest ruckus
within the party over its ownership had left Mujuru in an invidious
position of either trying to fight the party’s elders for the outfit’s
carcass or forming a new party altogether – of which both routes came with
“Mai Mujuru is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and
she could very well stand damned either way at the end of the day.
“To use impolite French, she has to decide very quickly, given that 2018
is upon us, whether she can afford to take on what I can describe as the
skunks (the party’s elders), who are desperate and are determined to fight
her on this, or start a new, unknown party at this late stage,” one of the
“Ultimately, my own view is that the only genuinely viable route still
open to her is to cut a quick deal with Save (MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai) and take what remains of her followers to him,” the
well-placed source added.
At the same time, ZPF’s founding fathers, Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo,
insisted yesterday that they “owned” the party, and would fight to the
bitter end to protect its image rights.
This latest development piles the pressure on Mujuru who is still smarting
from her stunning fall-out with the two party stalwarts and dozens of
other high-ranking officials, which has caused the implosion of the
The Daily News is also reliably told that when Mujuru held her national
executive council meeting on Thursday, which was attended by provincial
co-ordinators, excluding the Midlands province, discussions on a possible
change of the party’s name were top of the agenda.
“We are aware that they are insisting on calling themselves People First,
so the possibility of changing the name was discussed and we may call
ourselves Zimbabwe People’s Party (ZPP) because we have always been a
people’s party,” a source who attended the Thursday meeting said.
However, Mujuru is insisting – for now at least officially – that she will
continue using the name as all her current structures operate under that
“We remain People First. We have the people. Even a blind man can see that
Mujuru is the real deal, and the decision to expel the group was well
informed and it is not a step back but rather we have moved 100 miles
“That alone clearly shows that we are a serious party,” Mujuru’s
spokesperson, Gift Nyandoro, told the Daily News yesterday.
But Gumbo confirmed that the elders would “retain all the party’s image
rights”, including the use of the name ZPF, saying the onus was on Mujuru
to form her own party, following her “expulsion” from the movement.
“Joice left ZPF. She now has her own party which she runs from her
bedroom. People did not resign from ZPF, but from her faction,” the
forthright Gumbo said sarcastically.
Since Mujuru announced that she had fired the elders and other senior
party officials, she has been holding meetings at her Harare residence,
while Gumbo and Mutasa have been operating from ZPF’s offices.
In an unexpected bombshell that shook both the opposition movement and
ordinary Zimbabweans alike, Mujuru on Wednesday morning announced she had
expelled Gumbo and Mutasa, together with five other party heavyweights –
on account of them being alleged Zanu PF agents and working to topple her
from her interim position.
“Having done extensive consultation within the rank and file of the party
and also in my capacity as the president with the executive authority to
ensure its wellbeing, I hereby announce the expulsion of the following
members from Zimbabwe People First with immediate effect: (Rugare) Gumbo,
(Didymus) Mutasa, Margaret Dongo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Luckson Kandemiri,
Munacho Mutezo and Claudious Makova,” she said.
But no sooner had she completed her briefing than the situation turned
into a complete farce, when Mutasa and Gumbo announced at their own press
conference that they had similarly expelled Mujuru from ZPF.
Gumbo said Mujuru had “revealed to all and sundry” that she was incapable
of leading an opposition party, and was therefore not fit to hold such an
“She has declared war on us and the die has been cast. We don’t think that
she is the right person to lead us. We no longer recognise her as the
leader of People First,” Gumbo said at the packed media event which was
also attended by the other supposedly expelled members.
Weighing in, Mutasa said even though the elders were still to settle for
her successor, one thing they were sure about was that they were “tired”
of her style of leadership.
“We are not surprised by her irrational and emotional decision purporting
to expel us. In fact, at the time she held her press conference, we were
waiting for her at the party offices as she had told us that we should
wait for her since she was at the Trauma Centre.
“She has no right to expel us. Mujuru was in fact appointed by us the
founders of the party to lead the party as the interim president,” Mutasa
But Nyandoro told the Daily News yesterday that despite the seeming
implosion of ZPF, there was “a sense of renewal and a break from the past”
within Mujuru’s camp.
“We feel free. We are going to have rallies around the country to announce
the state of the party. Now people feel liberated and we no longer have to
explain to people about the role that some people played when they were in
“We were accused of harbouring criminals and thieves and Amai (Mujuru)
took this step in the interests of Zimbabweans. It was the best move and
she has no regrets about it,” Nyandoro said.
He also announced that from now onwards, ZPF would no longer take part in
by-elections, stressing that the party had no candidate in the forthcoming
Mwenezi East mini-poll.
Amid the chaos, Mujuru has been working behind the scenes with Tsvangirai
and other smaller opposition parties towards the formation of the planned
grand opposition coalition.
Although Tsvangirai was said to be disappointed with the turmoil engulfing
ZPF, the former prime minister in the government of national unity has
also given Mujuru some oxygen of sorts by re-affirming his commitment to
working with her in the mooted grand alliance, which is expected to be in
place by the end of this year.
Earlier this week, Tsvangirai said Mujuru had proved to be a significant
opposition player – and that the two would work together with others to
dethrone Mugabe and Zanu PF from power next year.
Analysts have also consistently said a united opposition, fighting with
one purpose, would bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule – especially at this
time when the country’s economy is dying and the increasingly frail
nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu PF united.
Mujuru was expelled from Zanu PF, together with Gumbo and Mutasa, in the
run-up to the ruling party’s sham “elective congress” in December 2014, on
untested allegations of plotting to assassinate and topple Mugabe from