Mujuru, ZPF hit ground running

via Mujuru, ZPF hit ground running – DailyNews Live Fungi Kwaramba, CHIEF WRITER • 10 March 2016

HARARE – Former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) team, who officially announced their entry into opposition politics last week, are building up a head of steam as they prepare for the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.

Yesterday, the widow of the late liberation struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru, was interviewed on popular South African talk radio station, SAfm, where she was grilled for an hour about her vision for Zimbabwe and her time in Zanu PF and government — as she takes her message of a new dawn for the country to Diasporans and other audiences beyond Zimbabwe’s borders.

At the same time, ZPF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told the Daily News that the new kid on the political block was working on an urgent plan to take on board all disgruntled war veterans and Zanu PF officials who no longer viewed the warring ruling party as their political home.

He said as it is, ZPF had been received well in all the perceived Zanu PF strongholds, with the new party now ratcheting up its efforts to woo and absorb all those ruling party stalwarts who feel alienated from the former liberation movement, including war veterans and all those accused of belonging to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste faction.

“We have hit the ground running and are ready to work with everyone, from civil servants, the army, police and others. All Zimbabweans are suffering and they have had enough of Zanu PF,” the buoyant Gumbo said.

Asked if ZPF was ready to work with expelled war veterans like Chris Mutsvangwa and Zanu PF bigwigs perceived to be loyal to Mnangagwa, he said “absolutely yes”.

“The president (Mujuru) will make a statement on that soon. It is very important for all war veterans to work together for the country because we fought in the liberation struggle together,” Gumbo said.

It also emerged yesterday that ZPF has dispatched emissaries nationwide as the party seeks to take advantage of the seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars devouring Zanu PF, with the mission to recruit more ruling party officials and supporters to the ranks of the new party.

“Although we launched our party in Harare last week because it is the capital, the president will soon be going to every corner of the country again, to reach out to the people who are yearning to interact with her.

“We have also lined up several mass rallies because people are very excited,” Gumbo said, adding that Mujuru was “more than ready” for the tumultuous opposition politics in Zimbabwe, where violence — perpetrated by Zanu PF in the main — was all too common.

“Many Zimbabweans who are tired of Zanu PF believe that she is the one to end Zanu PF’s rule. She is certainly up to the task.”

In the meantime, and despite feigning bravado in public spaces, Zanu PF bigwigs are said to be seriously rattled by ZPF, as it emerges that many ruling party legislators are now ready to jump ship for the outfit.

Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News earlier this week that the current mood in the upper echelons of the former liberation movement resembled that of a funeral as “not one person is sure how the next few months will pan out for the party” in the wake of the launch of ZPF.

“For a long time, many people thought that Mai Mujuru did not have the stomach to take on Gushungo (President Robert Mugabe) and the party (Zanu PF). Now that it is happening, the atmosphere at the top resembles a funeral as 2018 approaches.

“It is not helping matters that the chefs (senior party officials) and the security sector are all sucked in the terrible dog-eat-dog war for power, which makes it difficult for anyone to plan effective counter strategies against People First,” one of the sources said.

A number of Zanu PF MPs who spoke to the Daily News confirmed that they were on the verge of quitting the warring party, and that all they were waiting for now was “the best opportunity to join Mai Mujuru” — a looming development that the ZPF leader herself alluded to last week.

Speaking in an interview with this newspaper then, Mujuru said ZPF was “not a three-person party”, but rather one that had deep roots, including in the ruling party and the security establishment.

“You may think we are the only three who are in People First (Mujuru, (Rugare) Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa), no. We have people in Parliament there who are the majority who are saying push … why would you be afraid of being relieved of your duties?” Mujuru said.

Commenting on alleged divisions in ZPF at the weekend by State media, Gumbo said this just manifested how jittery Zanu PF was, about the party — adding that Zanu PF “must brace for the fight of its life”.

“We are aware of the divide and rule tactics that they want to employ but we are united. They (Zanu PF) have come up with several strategies to try and destroy our party, and they are welcome because we know them and we are ready to deal with them,” Gumbo said.

He also confirmed that Mujuru had in the past few weeks been meeting with many Zanu PF officials, including MPs (names supplied but withheld on request), who all intended to join ZPF.

If these MPs do follow through on their promises and threats, this would set the cat among the pigeons in the ruling party, which is reeling from its deadly factional and succession wars.

Among the prominent Zanu PF personalities who recently ditched the ruling party to join ZPF are former deputy Information minister Bright Matonga — who is said to be working closely with former Zimbabwe Union of Democrats president, Margaret Dongo, to mobilise support for the new party in Mashonaland West.

The Daily News first revealed exclusively the plans by dozens of Zanu PF legislators to ditch the party and join Mujuru and ZPF late last year. The newspaper reported then that the panicky ruling party was, as a result, making frantic preparations for yet more Parliamentary by-elections.

Insiders also claimed at the time that it was “panic stations” among ruling party bigwigs who understood the fact that People First “is a reality and a major threat” to Zanu PF’s fortunes ahead of the country’s eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections which are a mere 18 months away.

“Provinces, particularly Mashonaland East, have been instructed to prepare for tough by-elections for the MPs who want to ditch us,” one of the sources said.

Suspended Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson, Joel Biggie Matiza, also confirmed to the Daily News then, that party supporters were suspicious about the motives and machinations of some of their comrades and were no longer willing to continue working with those said to be planning to join Mujuru.

“That is the exact reason why we recommended that some of these people be expelled because we realised they are no longer with us as they are now working with the opposition. We are only waiting to hear from the politburo concerning their fate,” Matiza said.