HARARE - Post-congress Zanu PF insiders say many of the party’s structures are in turmoil amid reports that former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s yet-to-be launched People First outfit is vigorously “fishing” for members from among their ranks.
Following her expulsion from both the government and the warring ruling party on untested allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate President Robert Mugabe, Mujuru and her team of disaffected liberation struggle stalwarts vowed to fight back and expose Zanu PF for the “paper tiger” that they claim it is.
And while there has been talk of Mujuru working to reach an electoral pact with former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to challenge Mugabe’s 36-year grip on power, the People First movement is also raiding the ranks of other opposition parties to build its base.
The MDC’s Budiriro MP, Costa Machingauta, who is also a senior member of the party’s national organising committee, confirmed that Mujuru had taken her fishing rods into opposition precincts.
“Those who are joining People First are former officials who had joined (Tendai) Biti and (Elton) Mangoma when the party split, the likes of (former Masvingo MP Jefferson) Chitando, (former Harare deputy mayor Emmanuel) Chiroto. Otherwise all our structures are intact,” Machingauta told the Daily News yesterday.
While the mobile phone of Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere was unreachable yesterday, dozens of the party’s former leading lights and current officials are known to be consorting with People First.
Among them is a former ruling party councillor in Masvingo who was expelled last month after it became public that he had effectively crossed the floor to the new kid on the block.
In a letter dated December 17, 2015 that was addressed to the council chairperson by the Zanu PF provincial chairperson Ezra Chadzamira, the party barred Ward 12 councillor Rosiwita Chinyaure from taking part in council activities.
“This letter serves to advise that Clr Rosiwita Chinyaure of Masvingo has ceased to represent the interests of Zanu PF and its people.
“The party prays for necessary steps and legal proceedings to be activated through the normal channels to advise the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of this development and call for a by-election,” reads part of the letter.
Contacted for comment, People First assistant spokesperson Colonel Kudzai Mbudzi said the decision by many councillors to cross the floor to People First only helped to demonstrate how big the Mujuru project was.
“If you see people sacrificing their jobs, livelihoods and money to cross over to PF it means that that’s where the light is.
“There is an exodus of people joining our structures from all the political parties on a daily basis, and this is indicative of the faith Zimbabweans have in the leadership of Amai Mujuru,” Mbudzi said.
This comes after the Daily News revealed last week that a panicky post-congress Zanu PF was making frantic preparations for yet more Parliamentary by-elections after it emerged that dozens of the party’s legislators were holding meetings with Mujuru with the intention of joining her.
Zanu PF insiders said it was “panic stations” among ruling party bigwigs who understood the fact that People First “is a reality and major threat” to their fortunes ahead of 2018.
“Never mind the fake bravado that the chefs (senior party officials) mouth off at public platforms, it is panic stations in the party.
“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.
This was also confirmed by Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Joel Biggie Matiza who said party supporters were suspicious about the motives and machinations of some of their comrades who they were no longer willing to continue working with as the comrades were 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.