Mujuru launches new party

HARARE - Former Vice President Joice Mujuru began a new political journey yesterday when she formally cut ties with the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) by forming a new party, the National People’s Party (NPP) — bringing to an end a rocky relationship with her former top allies Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo.

This comes after Mujuru announced last month that she had sacked the two ZPF founding fathers, together with five other senior party officials, before they responded in kind with their own suspension of her — in stunning developments which marked the beginning of the end of their long political association dating back to their time in the ruling Zanu PF.

In a clear move to avoid a bruising legal battle with Mutasa and Gumbo, who had signalled their intention to challenge her in the courts if she continued to use the name of the party which they claimed was theirs, Mujuru announced yesterday the formation of the NPP.

“After consultation with the party membership from the 10 provinces, we have decided to rebrand ourselves in order to reflect our ideology and core values that make us a unique political party in this country.

“We agreed that the previous identity did not put to the fore these important persuasions.

Our national executive committee, the highest decision-making body in between our national people’s conventions, resolved in a meeting yesterday, the 2nd of March 2017, that from today, the 3rd of March 2017, our brand new name be the National People’s Party.

“We derive our uniqueness in that we are national democrats who believe in the inclusiveness of races, tribes, regions and gender to name but a few . . . who identify with our common vision as a political party,” Mujuru said at a press briefing in Harare.

The Daily News learnt yesterday that Mujuru has since written to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to register her new political outfit — whose constitution is apparently almost identical to that of ZPF.

Reacting to Mujuru’s new party, Mutasa welcomed the development while also taking yet another dig at the former vice president.

“She should have done that (forming a new party) a long time ago without having to embarrass us by purporting to have expelled us, only to wake up saying I have formed a new party.

“It shows lack of thinking for someone who has hopes to become the country’s president. We could have talked about the things that we disagreed over, and probably worked together again.

“Now we are going ahead with the work we started and we are doing all that we should have done with Mujuru on our own. We are a people’s party hence our name People First, and so we will continue working for the people,” Mutasa told the Daily News.

The former senior Cabinet minister and other ZPF bigwigs have been engaging in an ugly feud with Mujuru ever since their spectacular public fall-out last month.

This was after Mujuru had expelled Gumbo and Mutasa, together with five other party heavyweights — on account of them being alleged Zanu PF agents and working to topple her from her interim ZPF position.

But no sooner had she announced her surprise decision than the situation turned into a complete farce, when Mutasa and Gumbo announced at their own press conference that they had also similarly and summarily expelled Mujuru from ZPF.

Mutasa and Gumbo, after announcing that they had sacked Mujuru, immediately assumed control of the party, claiming that they were the rightful owners of the fledgling opposition party and its image rights.

Apart from her bickering with Mutasa and the other senior ZPF officials, Mujuru was also dealt a body blow later when she suffered mass desertions, including receiving resignations from some of her longtime aides such as Sylvester Nguni, Ray Kaukonde and Retired Brigadier-General Aggripa Mutambara.

Before problems rocked ZPF, Mujuru had been working behind the scenes with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other smaller parties towards the formation of the planned grand opposition coalition.

Tsvangirai has since given Mujuru some encouragement despite being disappointed by the ructions which eventually led to her departure from the ZPF.

The former prime minister in the stability-inducing government of national unity said that Mujuru had proved to be a significant opposition player — and that the two would continue to work together with others to dethrone Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF from power in next year’s make-or-break national elections.

Mujuru herself remained confident yesterday about her involvement as part of the mooted grand opposition coalition in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 polls.

“In line with our core values of inclusivity, we remain committed to a coalition of all progressive and democratic opposition forces to ensure we end the country’s autocratic rule in the 2018 elections.

“To that end, as the NPP, we would like to inform our members, supporters, sympathisers, well-wishers and Zimbabweans from across the political divide that we remain committed to a democratic Zimbabwe.

“We remain builders of Zimbabwe in peace. We are the future, and we have the solutions,” she said.

Analysts have previously told the Daily News that a united opposition, fighting with one purpose, can finally bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule, especially at a time that the nonagenarian is fighting to keep his warring Zanu PF united.

They also say Mujuru, whose liberation struggle nom de guerre was Teurai Ropa (Spill Blood), and whose late husband Solomon was the first black post-independence army commander, could provide the much-needed bridge that opposition parties have been missing to ensure the smooth transfer of power if they win the 2018 elections.

However, they warn that without a broad coalition involving all the major opposition players, Zanu PF would use “its usual thuggish and foul methods” to retain power.

In 2008, Rex, the revered liberation struggle icon, was accused by Mugabe and other Zanu PF bigwigs of having engineered the 93-year-old’s stunning electoral defeat to Tsvangirai in that year’s presidential poll.

Comments (1)

Why don't you come to a party that is well anchored and even if there is roaring waves it keeps sailing on. Joyce we as MDC-T might need you to mobilize our fellow citizens in Mashonaland where fear is still pumping in their hearts. For you Zim pf I think you are on your own cdes, we don't trust your colors

Facts - 4 March 2017

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