HARARE – Former vice president and now leader of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party, Joice Mujuru, says this week’s by-election will go a long way in assuring long-suffering Zimbabweans that their future lies with the opposition.
Mujuru’s fledgling party will be participating in its first elections since it was launched last year, with political analysts saying Saturday’s Bikita West mini-poll will provide a litmus test for President Robert Mugabe’s former long-serving deputy.
The ZPF will be represented in the by-election by Kudakwashe Gopo.
Mujuru’s spokesperson Gift Nyandoro told the Daily News yesterday that the by-election was significant not only to ZPF, but all opposition parties as the Bikita West seat would indicate how the mooted grand coalition was likely to perform in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
“As People First this week is very significant to all Zimbabweans. The election is going to demonstrate that People First is a party of choice.
“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.
“It’s also going to be a D-day for Zanu PF as no amount of violence will stop the opposition parties from uniting against Mugabe,” Nyandoro said.
Mujuru has been trying to enlist the participation of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in her party’s campaigns, as it bids to take 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.
Mujuru, who was ruthlessly purged from the warring Zanu PF in late 2014, together with her close allies who included liberation stalwarts such as Rugare 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 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.
Last week, Mujuru was dealt a heavy blow when her Bikita West rally was cancelled to allow Zanu PF to hold its own gathering which is set to be addressed by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
This was despite the fact that ZPF had notified the police of its intention to hold the rally there earlier, almost a month ago.
Already, tension is high in the volatile constituency which historically, is a hotbed of political violence.
Recently, sickly Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa threatened to unleash violence in the constituency against all opposition supporters.
She told ruling party supporters who gathered for the campaign rally at Gwindingwi Primary School early this month to vote “wisely” or else suffer the consequences.
“Haa, munozviziva, muno hamusi mekutamba namo (You all know it. This is not a constituency to play silly games). Kune vamwe vakatsakatika muno umu gore riya, munoriziva. Handei tinovhota zvakanaka. (There are some who disappeared in this constituency as you know. Let us go and vote wisely),” she bellowed ominously. – Daily News