HARARE - While former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s inaugural media conference has shown her serious intent to contest the 2018 presidential election as the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) candidate, social and political analysts believe she has a lot of work ahead of her.
Political commentator Mcdonald Lewanika said Mujuru has now clearly stepped into the political ring and her motives and intentions can no longer be second guessed.
“She is aiming for ascendency to the presidency and has assembled an interim team with high name recognition levels in order to try to do that.
“But in politics, familiarity should not be confused with popularity. She and her team still have a hard road ahead — to convince the electorate which has largely lost faith in politics — that she has the answer and that change can be delivered through elections.
“As such, there are two or three tracks that Mujuru needs to pursue — first, she must rally the people behind her. That means building an organisation on the ground beyond the committee she has announced.
“She must not be misled or mislead herself into thinking that power can be won through committees at a national level and press conferences — she needs to cultivate support on the ground and should have people doing the building and motivation at sub-national level.
“Secondly, elections over the last 16 years have been adjudged to be unfree and unfair — now that she no longer has the incumbency advantage that she had while in Zanu PF, she and her support structures will need to convince people that something can indeed be achieved through the electoral route.
“In other words, she has to answer the question of how she will stem rigging and other illicit electoral activities, otherwise people will not vote even for her if the vote will not count.
“Lastly, she needs to build a coalition of support or party machinery beyond her colleagues from Zanu PF. This means bridging the gap with other opposition parties, coalescing where possible, and engaging with other social forces organised and unorganised among the urban and rural poor,” said Lewanika.
He warned that if Mujuru’s party continues to have a Zanu PF complexion, it will only attract those already attracted to Zanu PF but disaffected in one way or the other. To capture power, she needs a more diverse looking setup that can also capture other imaginations beyond the disaffected Zanu PF one.
“She will now be in for the intimidation, harassment and mudslinging that naturally follow anyone and everyone opposed to the Zanu PF regime, in addition to our opposition which seems to have borrowed these Zanu PF characteristics as part of their way of doing politics.
“So, it is good that she has come out of the closet with some ideas and a partial infrastructure, but as has often been said, it is a long road to State house, and one that is not easy as well.”
Media activist Tabani Moyo said the entry of Mujuru into the opposition body polity changes a lot of political configurations.
“This is mainly in the aftermath of a sweeping defeat of the main opposition in 2013 and the general despondency thereafter.
“One will be quick to point that if she is to unite with the other political players, chances are high that they will tip the scales in the 2018 general elections.
“This is mainly because the defeat of the opposition in 2013 led to the loss of hope in political processes in Zimbabwe.
“However, her coming in the open also mobilises her former party to bury the hatchet in the bit to continue its hegemonic conquest in our body polity.
“Remember, Zimbabwe’s political support is measured in the electoral seasons, this is when we will get a fair share of whose constituency she is going to eat into,” said Moyo.
Moyo added that Mujuru equally carries the leverage of the liberation struggle credentials which appeals to both the super structure of the ruling party and the uniformed service.
“However, one has to appreciate that the political activity in Zimbabwe is a long stretch.
“We hope with her entrance into opposition politics she will play an active role in disclosing the electoral deficiencies in which she has been an active player all along and consolidate with the opposition figures to mount a formidable force to dislodge Zanu PF from perpetual control of the levers of the State.”
Political commentator Grace Kwinjeh thinks Mujuru’s biggest challenge is to win the support of the MDC traditional supporters who might not be happy with their party but are very skeptical with the ZPF.
“I also think she has a big challenge in terms of getting the necessary electoral and security sector reforms that will smooth the way for a new dispensation.
“Indeed, gloves are off and we watch with caution — anything can happen but we pray for the best outcome!”
Another political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said it is definitely gloves off by Mujuru.
“She is unlike Simba Makoni who dilly-dallied. First, just like Paul after the encounter with God, it will take time for people to believe in her transfiguration.
“She will encounter the exact obstacles that every other opposition party met — electoral fraud and intimidation among others.
“I don’t know the quality of her team, but she has inside knowledge of Zanu PF chicanery, so she might have a critical edge over her competitors.
“She needs a coalition as much as everybody else because it takes more than one person to bring down the dragon. If she doesn’t innovate, she would be as irrelevant as MKD.”
Zimbabwe Editors Forum acting chairman Njabulo Ncube said Mujuru has finally shown her hand but she still has to make weary Zimbabweans believe that she has cleansed the Zanu PF ghost she has been associated with since independence.
“People are yet to hear her publicly denounce Mugabe on their transgressions.
“Another challenge is to prove she has the pulling power to ensnare the ordinary masses.
“Her first press conference was at a five-star hotel, we wait to see her first mass rally where she can respond to Grace (Mugabe)’s charges against her.
“Lastly, but not least, she has the challenge of proving to Zimbabweans who else in the security sector is she bringing aboard.”
Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu said Mujuru needs to close the trust deficit.
“She needs to spell out what she stands for and what differentiates her not only from Zanu PF but also from other opposition parties.
“Her main challenge is to disassociate herself from what she claims to be bad governance by Zanu PF when she was part of the same government for more than three decades, and the question is, would she be saying what she is saying if she had not been forced out of Zanu PF, and how sincere is she on her political agenda or it is all about sour grapes?
Political activist Blessing Ivan Vava said Mujuru’s greatest challenge is to untangle herself from the Zanu PF tag if she is to attract any meaningful following and “prove that she is different from all the other formations that came out of Zanu PF.
“Her immediate challenge is membership recruitment — however, it will not be a stroll in the park for her.”