HARARE – Amid claims that President Robert Mugabe no longer believed that former Vice President Joice Mujuru had plotted to oust and assassinate him, it is now also being suggested that some post-congress Zanu PF bigwigs are actively working to lure her back to the warring party.
Sources within both the post-congress Zanu PF led by Mugabe, and its rival formation fronted by liberation struggle stalwarts — the “original” Zanu PF that uses the slogan People First — claimed in interviews with the Daily News yesterday that with Mujuru seemingly prevaricating about her association with the People First movement, this was encouraging some of the nonagenarian’s lieutenants to court the former VP “to return home”.
A politburo member said with factional and succession wars worsening within the ruling party despite last year’s brutal purges of Mujuru and dozens of her close allies, some bigwigs were now actively campaigning for the former VP to be readmitted to the ruling party.
“If she keeps her silence and stops waffling like what (former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus) Mutasa and (People First spokesperson Rugare) Gumbo are doing, there is a good chance that she will be readmitted.
“Remember, she has a constituency and enjoys a lot of support from the grassroots. She is not a person one can simply wish away. So it makes sense to rope her back,” the senior Zanu PF official said.
But Gumbo dismissed the likelihood of this happening, as well as growing fears within the ranks of the “original” Zanu PF that the party had been infiltrated.
“That is just talk. I will tell you when the time comes. At the moment we are still working towards forming a party,” he said.
Asked whether Mujuru or anyone in the People First could rejoin Zanu PF, Gumbo — a close ally of the widowed ex-VP — said “she cannot abandon the people”.
“As far as we are concerned right now, there is no way we are going back to Zanu PF, unless if the allegations they made against us are withdrawn. But even so, what we stand for is different. We want democracy, we want a corruption-free society.
“They (in the post-congress Zanu PF) know she has support and may want to use her, but how will she explain to the people that she is going back to the party that made her suffer. I know they are desperate to have her because she has grassroots support, but it is not possible to imagine that right now,” Gumbo added.
However, there are fears within the People First camp that some people who were given short suspensions from the post-congress Zanu PF could be fancying their chances of returning to the ruling party before the 2018 elections — while Mujuru’s continued silence regarding her political future is unnerving some of her supporters, as they fear she could abandon them at the 11th hour.
“Some people were suspended for two years and that means by 2017 they could be back in the ruling party and be free to defend their parliamentary seats. Mujuru should give us the leadership we so desperately need,” a self-claimed People First follower said.
Other insiders in People First have also revealed that there is hesitancy among the movement’s rank and file to form a party, as they fear that some at the top might have “serious skeletons in the cupboard” which the ruling party would latch on to.
This comes as some analysts have said that Mujuru may be playing her cards close to her chest to protect her political interests.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Mujuru’s could also be a calculated strategy to ensure her personal safety and business interests.
“She is seen as the leader of the Gamatox faction. She would rather leave the others in her flock such as Jabulani Sibanda and Mutasa to make the noise. On the other hand, she has maintained her loyalty to Mugabe and has repeatedly indicated that her allegiance to him is strong despite Mugabe being supposedly misled by some people around him.
“Her silence is a sign of continued respect and loyalty to Mugabe. Who knows, maybe Mugabe may come back to his senses and realise he was being misled regarding Mujuru.
“Look at the recent reappointments of Mujuru’s supposed allies like Fortune Chasi. On a personal level, remember also that the late General’s estate is still to be executed and there is a lot for Mai Mujuru at stake,” Saungweme said.
Other observers also say the conciliatory tone that Mugabe’s wife Grace displayed in her weekend interview with State media was another sign that the First Family was now aware that it had been misled about the former VP when they ruthlessly expelled her from Zanu PF.
Sources who spoke to the Daily News at the weekend claimed that events of the past few months had “clearly shown” Mugabe that some “hyenas”, and not Mujuru, were behind the seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars that continue to devour Zanu PF.
“All indications are that both the president and Dr Amai (Grace) are now aware that the allegations against Mai Mujuru were a contrived narrative by some ambitious hyenas who manufactured the plots for their personal benefit.
“This is why the president has not acted further against Mai Mujuru, even as these hyenas have continued to push for her to be incarcerated on account of the false claims of treason that she and others allegedly committed.
“Most people also noted at the weekend that Dr Amai made it very clear that she felt used by these over-ambitious hyenas who, after manufacturing the false claims against Mai Mujuru, were now pushing the equally-false claims that she wanted to succeed President Mugabe,” one of the sources said.
Grace, who was nicknamed “monya (giant) for hire” in the chaotic run-up to Zanu PF’s disputed congress late last year, tried to cut a motherly figure in her weekend interview — a sharp contrast to the belligerent and uncaring persona that she appeared to actively cultivate at the height of the ruling party’s internal ructions. – Daily News