via People First takes shape – DailyNews Live 13 August 2015 by Mugove Tafirenyika and Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Liberation struggle stalwarts associated with the “original” Zanu PF formation which uses the slogan People First say they are not unduly concerned by growing fears that the movement has been heavily infiltrated by State agents to neuter it, adding that all is on track for the launch of the party soon.
These assertions came as the Daily News was being told by insiders yesterday that there was already “fierce jostling for positions” within the movement, amid concerns that its presumptive leader, former Vice President Joice Mujuru, continues to send confusing messages about where she stands regarding her association with the party.
One of the sources, who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation by hardliners within President Robert Mugabe’s warring post-congress Zanu PF, where he still holds a senior position, said the jostling for positions within the movement appeared to have been triggered by suggestions that its leading promoters, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa and its spokesman Rugare Gumbo would not stand for senior positions in the party.
“With Rugare Gumbo having indicated that he was content with remaining the movement’s spokesperson, it is now left to the likes of (former Zanu PF Mashonaland East chairman) Ray Kaukonde and (prominent Zanu PF legislator) David Butau to fight it out for the powerful post of secretary general and the two appear to have already started campaigning,” he said.
Another insider said the tussling for positions had also been precipitated by a recent resolution by the People First movement that they needed to first unroll their party and its structures before pursuing further the idea of a grand coalition with other opposition parties.
“It was initially envisaged that (Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba) Makoni would become national chairman, while (Zapu leader Dumiso) Dabengwa would become the other vice president. But following the resolution, others like Kudakwashe Bhasikiti now fancy their chances of becoming the other VP,” the second source said.
But Gumbo told the Daily News yesterday that while they were aware of attempts by the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to infiltrate the ranks of the still-to-be-launched party, this would not derail the movement.
“People must not worry too much, we are working on it. We are not going back. Isn’t it they (post-congress Zanu PF bigwigs) fired us? We have to find a new home and those who want to remain in that party (post-congress Zanu PF) can,” Gumbo said.
He also said the movement was yet to give aspiring candidates the green light to canvass for support.
“We are still working on the project and once we are done we will make an announcement for people to start campaigns. As it is now, people are just acting on rumours,” Gumbo said.
But Mutasa dismissed outright suggestions that the party could be engaged in factional wars already, describing such talk as “claptrap”.
“That is nonsense. How can people jostle for positions before the party has been formed. In the event that people are nominated, after everything has been done, then they are free to campaign,” Mutasa said.
At the height of Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars, which have led to the brutal purging of scores of its senior officials late last year, it was suggested that Mujuru had the backing of more than 100 ruling party legislators — many of whom survived the axe and are still firmly ensconced within the post-congress Zanu PF.
As all this happens, firebrand war veteran Margaret Dongo, launched a new political party to challenge Mugabe and his warring ruling party last week, noting bluntly that arrogant and corrupt ruling party bigwigs were fomenting Zimbabwe’s mounting political and economic woes.
The new party, the Movement for People First — which is different from the “original” Zanu PF formation that is fronted by liberation struggle stalwarts — will contest the much-anticipated 2018 national elections.
Dongo said the new party had “a great team of patriots driven by a very strong conviction that there is need, given this country’s prevailing political, social and economic circumstances to come up with a truly and practically people-centred, patriotic political formation whose premise is the people themselves”.
Analysts told the Daily News then that Dongo’s move would put immense pressure on the seemingly hesitant Mujuru, who has been touted as the leader of the People First movement, although she is still to publicly pronounce her association with the rival Zanu PF formation herself.
“Therefore, for all those persons who have been enjoying it on the fence, claiming they are out of Zanu PF, we say this is the occasion for them to show where they really stand, whether they like it or not. The enemy has been provoked, it is time to engage,” Dongo said in remarks that were interpreted as targeted at Mujuru.
She added that in launching the new party, she was “guided by the liberation war tactic of provoking the enemy in order to engage the coward and fence-sitters among us into battle”.
And amid all this, analysts say Zimbabwe has once again hit the depths of humanitarian and economic despair that were last experienced in 2008, when the country’s seemingly unending political crisis precipitated an economic meltdown of monumental proportions which culminated in the death of the Zimbabwe dollar and the establishment of the hope-inducing government of national unity.
Speaking in interviews with the Daily News on Tuesday, the analysts said the only difference between then and now was that supermarkets were currently full of goods unlike seven years ago — although very few Zimbabweans are able to afford the goods as joblessness and poverty levels in the country increase exponentially.
All the analysts who were interviewed put the blame for the country’s escalating political and economic crisis at the door of Mugabe and Zanu PF, saying the ruling party had more appetite for its mindless factional and succession wars than resolving Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges and advancing the lives of long-suffering citizens.