HARARE - Zimbabwe’s renowned girl guerrilla and anti-colonialism activist, Joice Mujuru, who is set to launch her political outfit soon, poses a credible threat to the hegemony of Zanu PF and represents the first real opportunity for a change of regime, a respected South Africa-based think tank has warned.
Former Vice President Mujuru, expelled from the governing Zanu PF in 2014 over untested allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate President Robert Mugabe, and the new party, known as Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), will contest the 2018 elections.
Analysts say while Zanu PF continues on its self-inflicted path of destruction — with even Mugabe concerned that the party could disintegrate — the political environment in the country is set for a major shake-up and possible rejuvenation.
Mujuru, 60, who registered her party with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) two weeks ago, accuses the governing Zanu PF of neglecting the people and destroying the country through corruption. She says her new political outfit will provide a new beginning that will give all Zimbabweans access to the country’s economy.
The politician-cum-businesswoman said that the ZPF is set to develop into a fully fledged political party after intensive consultation with Zimbabweans across the divide.
NKC independent economists, a privately-owned political and economic research unit located in Western Cape, with a focus on the African continent, said Mujuru has not suddenly become a critic of Zimbabwe’s economic policies, but rather has a record of dissent from within her previous office as vice president of the country.
“Secondly, there is strong evidence to suggest that when she was expelled from the party and government, she took a large slice of her support base with her and that her party provides an attractive alternative to those still within Zanu PF who are disillusioned and resentful of the new power plays while the ailing president seems powerless to exercise his authority,” NKC analyst Gary van Staden said in his report.
“Thirdly, her ability to attract support from the current crop of opposition parties will be important and increase the extent to which the opposition can present a united front in 2018.”
He cited the growing discontent within Zanu PF ranks over the role and influence of the unelected First Lady Grace Mugabe and “her increasingly hysterical and irrational attacks on supposed successors to her husband and their various ‘plots’”.
“Finally, the bitter and divisive succession struggle within Zanu PF poses a real threat to political stability, and the contests could easily become violent,” Van Staden warned.
“Two ironies are also evident: that after the bitter and brutal infighting to succeed Mugabe, the victor loses the office to Mujuru and, second, (Grace) Mugabe recently acknowledged that her campaign against Mujuru back in 2014 was a mistake — she may yet see just how big.”
Other analysts have said they have been impressed by the powerful reminder of Zimbabwe’s fading dream which formed the core message in Mujuru’s speeches.
Tendai Biti’s opposition People’s Democratic Party has said it shared Mujuru party’s core values of non-discrimination and constitutionalism and that the party is an “important realignment of politics” and that her move is another step in the long process of realigning Zimbabwean politics around these values.
Van Staden said the ZPF is by no stretch just another hopeful opposition grouping doomed to fall victim to the often less than honest elections and Zanu PF behaviour.
“It represents the first real prospect of electoral defeat for Zanu PF since the near miss by Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) back in 2008 when only last minute gerrymandering and concentrated acts of violence prevented the MDC taking power,” he said.
“But then the MDC became its own worst enemy — an ineffective, hand-wringing, complaining coalition partner that allowed the Zanu PF and Mugabe to devour it for breakfast, leading to electoral defeat in 2013 and disintegration into several factions.
“Mujuru and the ZPF represent a real opportunity to rid the political landscape of a fractured and rudderless Zanu PF denied the once coherent, dynamic and powerful leadership of Mugabe — now a tired, pale shadow of his former self and a massive loss to the Zanu PF electoral machine.
“It remains entirely possible that Zanu PF will revert to old tactics of intimidation, violence, gerrymandering and outright cheating to secure a win, but that looks increasingly unlikely — not because it will not try, but because it will find much stronger opposition from within against such tactics.”