HARARE – Former Vice President Joice Mujuru (pictured) has started meeting her supporters and interacting with structures of the “original” Zanu PF that uses the slogan People First, in a move that signals that it is now truly game on between her movement and President Robert Mugabe’s warring post-congress Zanu PF.
People First spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told the Daily News yesterday that Mujuru — who was brutally purged from the ruling party late last year together with her close allies on untested allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe — was quietly holding meetings with her followers countrywide to “reassure them of her commitment to the cause”.
Gumbo also revealed that Mujuru’s meetings with grassroots supporters and structures of the movement were in preparation of the official launch of their party which he said was “imminent” — with insiders saying this could happen within the next three months.
“Our supporters from around the country want to know what is taking place in terms of the establishment and launch of the party, so she is meeting not only the structures but also various other people who have been enquiring about our activities.
“She is as determined as ever to the cause as everyone works hard in preparation for the imminent launch of the party,” the buoyant Gumbo said.
A source privy to the goings-on in People First confirmed to the Daily News that Mujuru had been “up and about, and in the thick of things” since the beginning of last month, meeting and helping to organise supporters.
“It’s now a matter of time before Mai Mujuru starts addressing public meetings openly.
“Since the beginning of the year, we have all been working hard, establishing structures countrywide, with the biggest challenge that we were facing being that people were not sure if this project was happening for sure and whether it had Mai Mujuru’s blessings.
“This is the context in which she is meeting supporters and structures. She has met many ward, district and provincial coordinators,” a co-ordinator from Mashonaland East said.
“The word that Amai has been telling us throughout the meetings has been the need for patience after we told her that people on the ground cannot wait for the party’s official launch.
“Last week, she indicated that the launch was not more than 90 days away, which means it could take place round about the end of February next year,” the co-ordinator added.
The post-congress Zanu PF has exhibited visible panic over the past few months after it was reported that Mujuru and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai could join forces against Mugabe in the 2018 elections.
And rattled by the dramatic re-entry into formal politics by Mujuru two months ago, as well as the prospects of her working with Tsvangirai, some members of the panicky ruling party have apparently stepped up their efforts to lure her back into the former liberation movement.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News recently that while the overtures to Mujuru were “not universally supported”, there was widespread agreement that her brutal purge late last year had left the party more divided and seriously weakened.
“Yes, there are some overtures to her, but I don’t think that these have yet reached a formal stage, and they are certainly not universally supported. Many hardliners are opposed to such a move as it would threaten their positions.
“One thing that is not in dispute any more is that Mai Mujuru’s ghost looms large in the party,” a senior Zanu PF official said when asked to comment on the overtures.
Since the popular widow of the late liberation struggle icon, Solomon Mujuru, was ruthlessly purged from the ranks of the ruling party, Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars have duly escalated.
But Gumbo dismissed the speculation around Mujuru being lured back to Zanu PF as a deliberate ploy by the country’s spies to sell the public a dummy and portray her as a sell-out who was longing to return to the ruling party.
“We have been alerted that there are Zanu PF propagandists and security services personnel who have been assigned to fabricate and plant dubious stories in the media to the effect that (Dr) Joice Mujuru is still Zanu PF and that she intends on re-joining the faction-riddled and internally-decaying political outfit.
“We seek to set the record straight herein, that (Dr) Mujuru last met Mugabe on December 1, 2014, a day before Mugabe’s party held its congress and no other meeting between the two, or their representatives, has taken place subsequently.
“(Dr) Mujuru has no intentions to meet Mugabe or go back to Zanu PF as she is busy putting in place a strong political entity that will provide a platform for Zimbabweans, in our diversity and with the multiplicity of our skills, to turn around our economy, rehabilitate our service delivery system, restore hope to our long-suffering people and provide jobs and better livelihoods to the thousands of college and university graduates that the current government has condemned to perpetual poverty and destitution,” Gumbo said.
Mujuru recently launched her Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development (Build) manifesto, which caught the post-congress Zanu PF flat-footed and left many in the party visibly rattled.
And in a sign that the ghost of Mujuru continues to haunt the ruling party, First Lady Grace Mugabe surprisingly warned party supporters recently to be wary of calls for them to follow “Amai” as this could be a cunning ploy by the People First movement to garner support for Mujuru.
Speaking at a rally in Mberengwa — which was attended for the very first time by embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, probably because the Midlands Province is seen as one of his strongholds — Grace also expressed fears that Mujuru and the People Firs movement were eating into Zanu PF’s support base in many areas. – Daily News