Mujuru wobbles as 2018 beckons

HARARE - There was widespread agreement yesterday that the going has just got tougher for former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her fledgling Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party, after they suffered a crushing defeat to Zanu PF in the weekend’s Bikita West by-election.

Analysts who spoke to the Daily News  said ZPF’s heavy shellacking in the Bikita mini-poll had left Mujuru with “a huge mountain to climb”, at least in the court of public opinion, about her capacity to defeat President Robert Mugabe and his warring ruling party in the much-awaited 2018 national elections.

Crucially, the analysts also pointed out, ZPF’s debilitating defeat also meant that Mujuru was now in a weak bargaining position in her delicate and ongoing coalition talks with the popular and tenacious opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

ZPF insiders who were displeased by the unexpected decision to contest the Bikita seat, which fell vacant when Zanu PF legislator Munyaradzi Kereke was incarcerated for 14 years for raping a minor relative, also told the Daily News yesterday that “the writing was on the wall” the moment Tsvangirai did not join Mujuru at her Bikita campaign rally, to drum up support for her candidate Kudakwashe Gopo.

“When Save (Tsvangirai) declined to join this monumental political miscalculation, despite having campaigned for Temba Mliswa in Norton last year, we all knew that it was all over,” one of the miffed insiders said after Zanu PF candidate Beauty Chabaya crushed Gopo by 13 156 votes to 2 453.

Political analyst Gladys Hlatywayo said even taking into account the reported cases of violence and intimidation in the by-election, the result was a bad one for Mujuru and ZPF.

“The claim made by Mujuru that she is the real headache for Zanu PF is probably untrue, given the outcome of the Bikita by-election.

“What is clear is that there is now a strong need for an opposition coalition if Zanu PF is to be defeated in the 2018 election. In addition, such a coalition should perhaps be led by a party with the largest following and such a party is MDC.

“I would like to think that by refusing to support ZPF, MDC wanted to gauge the support base of ZPF and be guided accordingly as they negotiate the terms of the coalition.

“This election outcome will have an impact on the ongoing negotiations and will probably reduce the bargaining power of ZPF,” Hlatywayo said.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director, Pedzisai Ruhanya, also said the result of the election, notwithstanding the allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation, meant that Mujuru had lost her bargaining power in her coalition talks with Tsvangirai.

“Look, Bikita West has always been violent since 2000, and there was an even more violent by-election in 2001. Yet, Tsvangirai still won it and went on to repeat the feat in 2008, and had significant votes in 2013.

“So, if we are going to use that as a yardstick, then it is fair to say if there is to be any meaningful coalition by opposition parties, it has to have the former prime minister as its face.

“It is all about statics. This is no longer about assumptions, it’s about facts. Numbers don’t lie and Tsvangirai has them more than anyone else in the opposition,” Ruhanya told the Daily News.

However, he also noted that any judgment on Mujuru should consider the fact that Zanu PF was in control of the electoral process, which it always manipulated to its advantage.

“The fact that Zanu PF, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the State are conflated and are Siamese twins, means that it was always going to be difficult for Mujuru, and there is need to dismantle the system first because the administration of elections is still an illicit affair.

“But then, this also de-mystifies the myth that Mujuru has the support of the country’s security set-up because ZPF could not counter the Bikita West violence, just as she was ousted from Zanu PF, contrary to what we see with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” Ruhanya added.

In the run-up to Saturday’s by-election, violence flared up when suspected Zanu PF thugs, who were brandishing guns, left for dead National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) candidate Madock Chivasa and his election agent Thomas Muzuva — as they made their way from a local shop where they had gone to buy food.

Apart from the violence, observer groups also noted “multiple” other electoral malpractices, including a high number of assisted voters.

Terrified villagers also said they had ended up voting for Zanu PF, fearing that they would be dealt with ruthlessly if they disobeyed “chefs” (Zanu PF bigwigs) — who had allegedly dictated that they vote for the ruling party.

ZPF elder Rugare Gumbo conceded to the Daily News yesterday that while they were happy that they had “tested the waters” by participating in the Bikita by-election, they had not worked as hard as they should have.

“We did not co-ordinate ourselves well enough and our organising department did not do as well as we would have liked, but overall we are happy that we participated and we now know what we need to do going forward.

“It should also be taken into consideration that the electoral playing field was not level, as it favoured Zanu PF. There was rampant voter intimidation which justifies calls for electoral reforms,” he said.

ZPF was participating in its first elections since it was launched last year, with political analysts saying the poll would provide a litmus test for Mujuru.

In the run up to the by-election, Mujuru herself had said the poll would go a long way in assuring long-suffering Zimbabweans that their future lay with the opposition.

“This is the best chance to show to the world that together as opposition parties we stand, and divided we fall. This election is going to be historic because it’s going to show that opposition parties have the capacity of working together to defeat Mugabe,” her spokesperson, Gift Nyandoro, said.

However, former Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director, McDonald Lewanika, said it was “illogical” to judge Mujuru’s strength based on the Bikita by-election only.

“Yes, Mujuru was expected to haunt Zanu PF, but where? Is it in Bikita West? I think to rule out Mujuru based on Bikita West is faulty logic.

“The expectation has always been that Mujuru enjoyed popularity in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central, and that she also appeals to the middle class and business.

“So, her power cannot be tested on this by-election alone. If you want to prove it, you test it in an area she is supposed to be strong, in order to disprove or ascertain the myths. Anything else is an inaccurate conclusion,” he said.

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 Mugabe — is working with Tsvangirai and other smaller parties on a grand coalition which they say will be in place before the end of this year.

Analysts have also 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.

Comments (16)

Itz also clear challenge for the so called coalition whether they will defeat Mugabe come 2018,the coming together of Mujuru & Tsvangirai will duplicate each other &never supplement each other,taking into consideration Tsvangirai has never had enough following to defeat Mugabe all the years he has bn in opposition politics

Addmore Gudo - 23 January 2017

The rejection of Mujuru in Bikita also presents a challenge as regards to point whether coalition wil defeat Mugabe come 2018-the mujuru factor is dimming

Addmore Gudo - 23 January 2017

mujuru has no support as zim politics is so rudimentary that the only widely known politicians are only rwavhi mugabe and tsvangirayi. the less said about her the better.

josphat mugadzaweta - 23 January 2017

Shame.what a parthetic result for ppf.Incompetence at its worst .You are in real school now.Just dismantle Ppf and join Mdc as individuals.Yu require seriouse schooling in politics.

viola gwena - 23 January 2017

I have always advocated for these 2018 elections to be stopped ,put in the bin.Useless.No opposition.Waste of money,a cool $500m.If that money could be used to fix our roads is a better deal than elections ,which we all know Tsvangi will loose.There are no reforms coming.Even if Mdc boycotts who cares .Mujuru will stand in as opposition and zanu will win all seats and pay themselves handsomely.We need to work on poverty and give Mdc time to penetrate rurals.In Zanu ,even if yu put Dzinemunhenzva as party candidate,he will win bcoz of rurals.Those who think Mnangagwa will loose as head of zanu ,think again and properly this tyme.Mujuru will have to go back to zanu for her to win any seat.

viola gwena - 23 January 2017

I know its very difficult to accept the truth. Please, whether people believe it or not, Tsvangirai will never rule Zimbabwe. Its the honest truth, believe it or not. The only time Tsvangirai tested power was when he was Prime Minister of GNU. During that time Tsvangirai became big headed, a hard nut to crack and 'I know it all' individual and ignored people's advice to make sure that electoral reforms were aligned to the new constitution. This was followed by a disastrous election results. If he becomes big headed once more this time, the results are going to be even worse than before. The only way forward to free the nation from zanu pf grip is to swallow his pride and work with all political parties, big or small, to form a credible grand coalition. Other than that Zimbabweans can forget about freedom for the next decade

nhemacena - 23 January 2017

Daily News's favoured candidate has wobbled. Kkkk

Observer - 24 January 2017

The overall loser is Zimbabwe. We lost freedom of choice, we lost courage to confront bullies of all types from politicians (Mahofa), the chiefs, all the named perpetrators, we lost the option of heading into the future using a different direction. The quietness of ZEC is deafening, another toothless bulldog there. Once again, violence ruled over peace and true freedom. It will not surprise me if we hear of young guerillas raring to take to the gun to free themselves all over again.

Sagitarr - 24 January 2017

MDC ruling this country is a pipe dream.It will probably die with Save .Im starting to suspect mdc were scared to be trounced in these by elections.The reasons of staying away are suspect.But you want to go for national elections.I think these by elections can be tested by mdc to see if the reforms are working.Maybe its best as Viola says ,postpone them and make beter use of the money.Let mdc take their time to regroup.They are fighting internally anyway.

peter - 24 January 2017

face it,the people love zanu pf,the daily news can write its stories but the people will alway vote zanu pf,i therefore suggest that the dailynews makes use of @viola gwena and myself as resource persons as we have always predicted events accurately,we are the true analysts,dailynews dump your stephen chan,dewa mavhinga,ibbo mandaza,endless professors as it seems that they are out of touch with reality

truth - 24 January 2017

WISHFUL THINKING THAT PPLE LOVE ZANU WHEN THE SAME PARTY IS MAKING THEM DRINK SEWAGE WATER GO TO BED HUNGRY THE END OF ZANU IS NEXT YEAR .AS OF MUJURU 2000 SUPPORTERS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR A COALITION WITH SAVE WHO HAS 2M FOLLOWERS . KANZATO MUST BE ALMOST SAME NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS

Diibulaanyika - 24 January 2017

The way some of us write seem as if it is only Tsvangirai who is to liberate us. This is a participatory process why do you have ZANU PF ideology of giving one person responsibility of taking over power. Tsvangirai is happy but he is feel bad for the people of Zimbabwe this why he is leading opposition politics. when we are discussing let us not forget that we are part of the game.

Gubulzela - 24 January 2017

Honestly speaking, I think ZimPF showing in Bikita West is good enough. They Only need to work harder. Come 2018, they will definitely do better.

papaya - 24 January 2017

I think this is actually a positive outcome for ZPF than is they had one. Now they have more to think about and consider ahead of next year's elections while Zanu Pf basks in the glory of their stolen victory.

ISO Patriot - 24 January 2017

They is nothing that zanu trying to come through back door CAN offer to pple after 34 years in govt and all sane pple know that . Mujuru is not there to take power so she can change pple lives but to protect her diamond mines and other of her HUGE businesses . For 34 YEARS SHE WAS IN GOVT DESTROYING THIS COUNTRY ONLY TO BE CHASED AWAY FROM ZANU BY GRACE .If any one thinks MUJURU WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES THEN SOMETHING VERY KOKAYI IS EXISTING IN THEIR SKOP

Diibulaanyika - 24 January 2017

I don't blame ZPF leader,Joyce Mujuru,for his party's Bikita by-election defeat to Zanu Pf.The electorate,i mean the voters,are the ones with the power to remove Zanu Pf from power and vote another party into power.As long as people continue to vote for Zanu Pf, lets forget about the future and lets continue to enjoy our suffering.We haven't suffered to the point of voting Zanu PF out of power.

wilburt. - 24 January 2017

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