HARARE - Former vice president and now leader of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party Joice Mujuru will hold a crucial rally with war veterans at Masvingo’s Mucheke Stadium next week, ahead of the crunch Bikita West by-election in the province.
ZPF insiders, who spoke to the Daily News yesterday, said Mujuru was also trying to enlist the participation of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the rally, as her party bids to wrest control of the Bikita parliamentary seat which fell vacant after Munyaradzi Kereke was incarcerated for 14 years for the rape of a minor last year.
ZPF elder Rugare Gumbo, a war veteran and the only surviving member of the famous Dare ReChimurenga (liberation war council) also confirmed that the rally would definitely go ahead.
The ZPF insiders who spoke to the Daily News said they were “pulling out all the stops” to make the rally a success and to ensure that “all right-thinking” Zimbabweans worked to win Bikita West for the opposition.
“After a rally with the war veterans, the president (Mujuru) will continue with her tour of provinces to meet with local traditional leaders, as she continues with the programme she started late last year,” one of the well-placed sources said.
Some of the war veterans expected to attend the Mucheke rally include ambassadors John Mvundura, retired army general Agrippa Mutambara, as well as former senior military officials such as Bastian Beta, Parker Chipoyera and Claudius Makova.
Analysts have said the widow of the late liberation icon and Zimbabwe’s first black military commander, Solomon Mujuru, will use the Bikita West by-election as a dry-run for the watershed 2018 national polls.
The ZPF will be represented in the by-election by Kudakwashe Gopo.
Mujuru, who was ruthlessly purged from the warring Zanu PF in late 2014, together with her close allies who included liberation stalwarts such as Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa — on untested claims of plotting to oust and assassinate President Robert Mugabe — is working with Tsvangirai and other smaller parties on a grand coalition which they say will be in place before the end of the year.
Analysts have consistently said that a united opposition, fighting with one purpose, would bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule — especially at this time when the country’s economy is dying and the increasingly frail nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu PF united.