HARARE – Former Vice President Joice Mujuru (pictured) who now leads the opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) has set her sights on recruiting one of Zanu PF’s powerful tools, the chiefs, as part of strengthening her fledgling party ahead of the watershed 2018 national elections.
By Blessings Mashaya
Mujuru, who was sacked from Zanu PF on untested charges of seeking to topple and assassinate President Robert Mugabe, has already brought to the ZPF fold a section of the influential war veterans and some disgruntled Zanu PF card-carrying members as she prepares to go toe-to-toe with her former comrades in 2018.
Traditional chiefs have been unwittingly and gradually drawn into the political fray by Mugabe’s Zanu PF, becoming agents of coercion for the ruling party, contrary to their much-vaunted role as custodians of national culture and traditional values.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, ZPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire confirmed ZPF was making headway in gaining support of the traditional leaders, educating them that they do not belong to Zanu PF.
“Yes, she (Mujuru) is meeting chiefs wherever she is going. Last week, she met Chief Chiendambuya, a blind war veteran. Another week, she met Chief Musikavanhu in Chipinge. It’s part of our traditional practice to call on chiefs whenever we visit areas,” Mawarire told the Daily News.
“For 2016, we met different local leadership, even leaders from the security organs. We are a legitimate political party representing the people of Zimbabwe. We are telling traditional leaders that their job is apolitical.
“The response from them is very phenomenal and very good, received well, we have no complaints. We hope that the courtesy call is going to change traditional leaders. They must know that Zimbabweans are free to choose political leaders they want to represent them,” added Mawarire.
Mujuru was sacked from Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF in the run-up to the party’s sham “elective” congress in December 2014, together with other then senior ruling party officials who included its former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and spokesperson Rugare Gumbo — to end her 41-year relationship with the party she joined as a teenager.
The widow of Zimbabwe’s first black military commander and liberation icon — Solomon Rex Mujuru — is among the opposition parties working towards the mooted grand coalition which is seen as the best prospect of ending Mugabe and Zanu PF’s long rule.
Mujuru has been holding secret talks with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to try and thrash an electoral pact ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national polls.
Since she joined hands with Tsvangirai and marched with him in the streets of Gweru in August this year — in a rare public display of unity among the opposition — there have been growing calls by fed up citizens for the formation of a grand opposition alliance.
Mujuru and Tsvangirai’s rare public appearance and the subsequent meetings they have held since then, have sent Zanu PF bigwigs quaking in their boots.
Since then Zanu PF has stepped up its dirty campaigns against the former VP who recently said her husband’s death appeared to have been planned, as had been revealed by subsequent events following her expulsion from Zanu PF — all of which had re-enforced her suspicions that Rex was killed to pave the way for her ouster.
Rex, who is credited with playing a major role in catapulting Mugabe to the leadership of the ruling party in the mid 1970s — died in a mysterious fire at his Beatrice farmhouse, just outside Harare, in August 2011.
An inquest into his death proved both inconclusive and controversial, with his family and political associates rejecting outright the official narrative that he had died from a fire that had been started by a candle.
Since Mujuru was sacked from Zanu PF, together with other disaffected senior party officials, Mugabe and his lieutenants have savaged her relentlessly and also sought to tar the legacy of her revered late husband.
In August this year, on the exact fifth anniversary of Rex’s death, lapdog State media launched a shocking propaganda blitzkrieg on him — which only served to re-ignite questions surrounding his contested death.
They claimed that he had held several meetings with Tsvangirai where the parties had allegedly agreed on a plot to take over power from Mugabe. – Daily News