Battle for ZimPF escalates

Source: Battle for ZimPF escalates | The Herald February 11, 2017

Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
The decision on who owns Zimbabwe People First now lies in the hands of the nascent party’s supporters after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) categorically stated that it neither had any part to play in the registration of political parties, nor settling of their internal disputes.

The statement came after Messrs Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo — who claim to be the founders of the party — said they had written a letter notifying ZEC that they had relieved former Vice President Dr Joice Mujuru of her duties as leader of ZimPF.

In the letter, the two stated that they had since assumed leadership of the party made up mostly of Zanu-PF rejects.

ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau said she had not been in office for this whole week after she lost her mother-in-law.

“I am not sure if that letter reached our offices. I lost my mother-in-law and have not been in office this whole week,” she said.

“As ZEC, we do not register political parties and whatever internal disputes they have, we do not have a mandate to meddle in them.”

Messrs Mutasa and Gumbo said they had parted ways with Dr Mujuru due to “irreconcilable ideological differences”.

Dr Mujuru fired back, describing the two as “old men” who always claimed ownership of all political parties they had once joined.

Although Dr Mujuru tried to wear a brave face, part of her faction’s executive resolutions on Wednesday were evident that she was feeling the heat in her camp.

Smarting from the Bikita West by-election rout, Dr Mujuru announced that her party was no longer going to participate in all future by-elections describing them as “unnecessary distractions.”

In the letter to ZEC and co-signed by Messrs Mutasa and Gumbo, the two said: “This letter serves to notify you that Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru is no longer the interim president of Zimbabwe People First. She is no longer entitled to represent the party at any capacity nor to use the name Zimbabwe People First. Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru was appointed as the interim president of Zimbabwe People First pending its inaugural elective convention.

“However, due to irreconcilable differences in ideological thinking and leadership qualities, we advise that we have removed Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru as the party’s interim president. The founders of the party, Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa shall in the meantime act as the interim leaders of the party and shall be legitimate representatives of Zimbabwe People First.”

In an earlier interview, Mr Gumbo said they would convene in the next seven days to elect another interim party leader.

He said they preferred a young person to take over the leadership of the makeshift party pending an elective congress.

As a united outfit, ZimPF had in the past two years, failed to elect a substantive leadership.

“What we need to do is to sit down because we don’t want to repeat the same problem when we picked Joice Mujuru simply because she was a Vice President,” he said.

“We want to do extensive consultations to find a young person who will drive this thing to congress. We don’t want to take precipitous actions again and, we are going to sit down possibly in the next seven days.”

ZimPF spokesperson Mr Jealousy Mawarire said they would not be bothered by antics of expelled people.

“Those are expelled members and what we will simply do is to ignore their antics. They once said they are the original Zanu-PF (and) now they claim to own ZimPF,” he said.

“Each and every party they join, they claim ownership of it. They are possessionists who have a warped belief that every political party that they have been once part to is owned by the two. They have done that with Zanu-PF. After their expulsion, they claimed to be the original Zanu-PF.

“We are not surprised at all that they now claim to be the ZimPF founders. It satisfies their egos every time they are expelled from these voluntary organisations to masquerade as their owners. It helps them to manage depression attendant to the expulsions, but surely in practical terms it exposes how politically naïve they are,” said Mr Mawarire.

“They once visited the court trying to claim ownership of Zanu-PF and embarrassingly lost the battle and it surprises everybody that the two old men have surely learnt nothing from the futile attempt in the past to try to usurp ownership of political organisations that are supposed to be mass driven, and not owned by individuals – let alone those who are in the twilight of their checkered political lives.”

However, what is instructive is how the Dr Mujuru camp had decided to dodge elections as a way of managing the embarrassment that comes with electoral defeats.

The party, before its split, was heavily trounced by Zanu-PF in the recent Bikita West by-election.

The Mujuru camp chickened out of all elections yesterday, but the Mutasa/Gumbo group said they would participate – a clear indication that the party had split into two distinct factions.

The Mutasa and Mujuru camps traded expulsions on Tuesday citing diverse reasons.

The Mujuru group accused Mutasa and his camp of being Zanu-PF infiltrators bent on destabilising the party, while Mutasa hit back labeling Mujuru a dictator and incompetent leader.

Meanwhile, Mr Sylvester Nguni, who was leading the administration department resigned from the party and said: “I have resigned from Zimbabwe People First ( ZimPF) and am being asked to explain why.

“I desperately want to see a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe and became involved in ZimPF as I believed it would be a good platform to promote the interests of the people, as outlined in the party policy document BUILD (which I crafted ).

“Fundamentally, leaders and people in general, should be able to deal with disagreements by following a process. Here, we have two sides in ZimPF that have clearly shown that they do not subscribe to the view that correct structures can and should deal with opposing views,” said Mr Nguni in his statement.

He added: “I was left with no choice but to leave the party as it was clear to me the leadership did not see things the same way and would not change in their ways.”