Source: Zimbabwe People First congress in September | The Financial Gazette February 2, 2017
OPPOSITION Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) led by former vice president, Joice Mujuru, will hold its inaugural elective convention in September, setting the stage for a bruising battle for senior positions among its cadres.
The congress — to take place in Harare — will see some of those who have cast their eyes on leadership positions squaring up for the first time since the formation of the party in 2015.
Currently, all positions, including that of party president, are occupied by interim office bearers.
The party is largely comprised of former ZANU-PF cadres who were expelled along with Mujuru in December 2014 after being accused of attempting to topple President Robert Mugabe.
ZPF had initially set the convention date for September last year, but it was postponed amid reports of squabbling within its ranks.
The party is also under pressure to finalise proper party structures in time for the start of formal negotiations for a coaltion with other opposition political parties in preparation for next year’s general elections.
ZPF spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire, confirmed that the party is now fully engaged in preparations for the September convention.
“I can confirm that convention preparations are now in full swing. We do not have a specific venue for now. That is what relevant authorities are working on and once we are done, we will obviously inform the nation,” he said.
Mawarire said the party was carrying out an audit of its structures to determine who would form the expected 8 000 delegates.
“We are finalising the audit of the structures and once we are content with that, we will move to the next stage, which is mobilising resources for the convention and preparing the venue and programmes,” he said, adding: “We will be picking at least four members from each ward. The ward leadership will be asked to submit the names of at least four people, one each, from the youth wing, women’s wing, main wing and the war veterans’ wing. So as we speak, the lower structures are preparing for elections to choose people into district and provincial structures. These would make nominations for those they would want to be part of the national executive council as specified by our constitution.”
According to the ZPF draft constitution, which would be adopted at the convention, the National Executive Council (NEC) would be made up of 110 members.
The NEC is ZPF’s second most powerful organ after the National Standing Committee (NSC), consisting of 18 members.
Indications so far are that party members are involved in serious canvassing for leadership positions, particularly those in the NSC, as the clock ticks away.
Among the ZPF bigwigs said to be interested in NSC positions are former ministers Sylvester Nguni, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Dzikamai Mavhaire.
Home Affairs Minister, Ignatius Chombo’s ex-wife, Marian, is reportedly seeking to lead the women’s wing.
With Mujuru’s position appearing to be safe at the moment barring late entries, the battle is on the vice presidency where Bhasikiti is likely to fight it out with former MDC-T senior official, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.
Sources said former diplomat, John Mvundura, is also campaigning for the vice presidency.
Mavhaire is reportedly eyeing the national chairman’s post.
Former army brigadier general, Aggripa Mutambara is reportedly eyeing the position of national co-ordinator and is likely to be challenged by former ZANU-PF Central Committee member, Munyaradzi Banda.
The position is an equivalent of the national political commissar in ZANU-PF or the organising secretary in the MDC-T, something which underlines how crucial it is since it involves running the party’s structures.
Former ZANU-PF Member of Parliament, David Butau is linked to the national treasurer’s position.
Mawarire appeared to confirm the jockeying that is going on in the party.
“For now, I can say at least the top five positions that will be directly elected at congress will be the vice president, national chairman, secretary general, national co-ordinator and the treasurer general,” he said.
Contacted for comment this week, Bhasikiti said: “I have been reported to be interested in the vice presidency, but I am more interested in building the party structures than occupying a position. I cannot of course rule out that people could be tussling for various positions, which is very normal in a political party.”
Mavhaire declined to comment while Butau, Nguni, Mvundura and Chombo’s former wife were not picking calls on their mobile phones.