HARARE - Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) said yesterday it has started staging rallies to pile pressure on President Robert Mugabe and his beleaguered Zanu PF party ahead of the 2018 vote.
Joice Mujuru, who was Mugabe’s deputy for 10 years and touted as a likely heir until she got fired in 2014 on untested allegations of plotting a putsch, said in her first remarks in the wake of the launch of her ZPF launch last week that Zimbabweans were hungry for change, and promised to address unemployment and to amend the governing Zanu PF’s controversial black economic empowerment laws, which critics say have spooked foreign investors.
ZPF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said since publicly announcing that she will be leading the opposition party, there has been a groundswell of support even from people still sitting in the Zanu PF political bureau (politburo).
“It is an active period for us and the president has been meeting people who are coming to her home enquiring about the party,” Gumbo said.
“We have been doing rallies in the provinces and in Harare; it is a hive of political activity having held rallies in Mabvuku/Tafara at the weekend.”
Tomorrow, ZPF will hold yet another rally at Glen View 3 Shopping Centre in Harare while in Mashonaland East, all roads lead to Marondera where the party’s provincial leadership will hold a meeting with supporters.
A series of rallies have been lined up in Masvingo, Manicaland and Matabeleland regions.
Asked if Mujuru will attend any of the rallies, Gumbo said “presently people are mobilising”.
“We have not yet set a date for the president’s star rally but she is definitely going to be there on the ground and meet the people because they are now expecting her,” he said.
Apart from rallies, Mujuru is also secretly holding talks with senior Zanu PF bigwigs.
In a development that has shaken the ruling party to its very foundations, Mujuru is said to be in contact with several legislators who are plotting to spring a surprise for Mugabe. She recently hosted two Zanu PF politburo members.
Among the high-profile fingers that were suspended from Zanu PF — not expelled — and are now working with Mujuru are former deputy Energy minister Munacho Mutezo and several legislators.
“Mutezo has since come out in the open and we are currently working together.
“The president (Mujuru) recently hosted two politburo members whose names we cannot divulge at present. They indicated their willingness to join us and it is now a question of when and not if they will join,” Gumbo said.
Mutezo flatly refused to comment on the issue.
While Mutezo refused to speak to the Daily News on his new political home, a picture posted by ZPF supporters on Facebook shows the Chimanimani West MP seated on the front row with former ZBC board member Finance Elliot Kasu.
Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo were unsuccessful yesterday, but the governing party has derisively dismissed the new political party as a “damp squib.”
This is notwithstanding the fact that Mugabe’s party—at war with itself owing to succession fights—has been frantically trying to woo back into the party disgruntled officials, including Chikomba Central MP Felix Mhona , his Maramba Pfungwe and Murehwa North counterparts Washington Musvaire and Tenda Makunde respectively, who are all linked to the Mujuru-led outfit.
Other governing party officials who have officially joined hands with Mujuru to take Mugabe head on in the eagerly-awaited 2018 elections include former deputy Information minister, Bright Matonga who is in the ZPF information department.
Meanwhile, it is a hectic period for Mujuru with party supporters swarming her Harare home as the widow of the late liberation war icon, General Solomon Mujuru, begins her baby steps in the quest to end Zanu PF 36 year old rule.
So far, Mujuru’s political outfit has dispatched emissaries nationwide as they seek to take advantage of the simmering wars in Zanu PF to poach more officials ahead of the 2018 elections.
“We launched our party here last week because it is the capital but soon the president shall be going to every corner of the country to reach out to the people who are impatiently waiting for her. They are also rallies that have been lined up and these are because people are just excited,” Gumbo said.