HARARE - Rattled by the dramatic re-entry into formal politics by former Vice President Joice Mujuru two months ago, as well as the prospects of her working with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of the 2018 national elections, some members of a panicky post-congress Zanu PF are apparently stepping up efforts to lure her back into the ruling party.
Well-placed sources in President Robert Mugabe’s warring party told the Daily News yesterday that while the overtures to Mujuru were “not universally supported”, there was widespread agreement that her brutal purge late last year had left the party more divided and seriously weakened.
“Yes, there are some overtures to her, but I don’t think that these have yet reached a formal stage, and they are certainly not universally supported.
Many hardliners are opposed to such a move as it would threaten their positions.
“One thing that is not in dispute any more is that Mai Mujuru’s ghost looms large in the party,” a senior Zanu PF official said when asked to comment on the overtures.
Since the popular widow of the late liberation struggle icon, Solomon Mujuru, was ruthlessly purged from the ranks of the former liberation movement on untested claims of working to dethrone and assassinate Mugabe, Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars have escalated.
The politburo member who spoke to the Daily News said some party bigwigs were “desperate to let by-gones be by-gones”, which would see Mujuru and her allies being brought back into the party fold, for the sake of the party and the country.
“There is no doubt that things are not going well in the party. Many senior members now say privately that if Mai Mujuru is brought back into the party, we will win the 2018 general elections without any problems.
“The other issue is that everyone in the party (Zanu PF) wants to avoid a coalition between Mai Mujuru and Tsvangirai, because if the two join hands, this could be the end of our party,” he said.
Tell-tale signs of the overtures to Mujuru and her supporters first emerged at First Lady Grace Mugabe’s recent Rushinga rally, where she extended an olive branch to party members who were either dismissed or suspended on allegations of being linked to Mujuru.
“I always say if you see that you have done something wrong, apologise to the party. Even God forgives and as Zanu PF we do the same,” she said.
And in another indication that the ruling party is trying to bring Mujuru and her allies back, the inappropriately named State media columnist, Bishop Lazarus, said recently that Mujuru would return to Zanu PF.
“Mujuru’s silence is being presented as a strategy to ambush Zanu PF towards 2018. That is not the case as she is insisting that she can’t imagine herself fighting against Zanu PF in general and President Mugabe in particular.
“Gumbo and Mutasa are said to be pinning Mai Mujuru down as they try to force her to come out in the open. The Americans and the British are coming from the back, leaving Mai Mujuru with no room to breathe. It’s that bad.
“Seeing that she is in a fix, Mai Mujuru is said to have decided that she won’t comment officially on the People First project, with reports that the Build document that was attributed to her was published against her wish.
“Bishop Lazarus knows where her heart lies, but then let me not rush things here. Gumbo, Mutasa, Americans and the British will one good day know that they are and can’t be cleverer than Zanu PF,” the columnist said.
In the meantime, Mujuru’s allies say the former VP has no intention of going back to Zanu PF or meeting Mugabe as is being suggested in some circles.
Dismissing the speculation, the spokesperson of the “original” Zanu PF that uses the slogan People First, Rugare Gumbo, said there was a deliberate ploy by the country’s spies to sell the public a dummy and portray Mujuru as a sell-out who was longing to return to Zanu PF.
“We have been alerted that there are Zanu PF propagandists and security services personnel who have been assigned to fabricate and plant dubious stories in the media to the effect that (Dr) Joice Mujuru is still Zanu PF and that she intends on re-joining the faction-riddled and internally-decaying political outfit,” Gumbo said in a statement.
“We seek to set the record straight herein, that (Dr) Mujuru last met Mugabe on December 1, 2014, a day before Mugabe’s party held its congress and no other meeting between the two, or their representatives, has taken place subsequently.
“(Dr) Mujuru has no intentions to meet Mugabe or go back to Zanu PF as she is busy putting in place a strong political entity that will provide a platform for Zimbabweans, in our diversity and with the multiplicity of our skills, to turn around our economy, rehabilitate our service delivery system, restore hope to our long-suffering people and provide jobs and better livelihoods to the thousands of college and university graduates that the current government has condemned to perpetual poverty and destitution,” Gumbo said.
Mujuru recently launched her Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development (Build) manifesto, which caught the post-congress Zanu PF flat-footed and left many in the party visibly rattled.
“We reiterate that (Dr) Mujuru and all progressive Zimbabweans working with her will not be distracted from charting a trajectory that will return our country to economic prosperity through a people-centred political formation whose primary goal is to restore dignity to our people through providing mechanisms for economic sustainability rooted in an inclusive socio-economic and political system.
“No amount of lies, or infertile imaginations, is going to stop the people’s movement,” Gumbo said.