People First: A new hope for those in political dustbins

HE epitomised State authority, royalty and high level of political stamina, outfoxing Zanu PF foes and those who opposed his style of leadership within and outside the ruling party.


In his years in government, former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa commanded respect and utmost influence within security and intelligence sectors, where he held key portfolios until his dramatic fallout with President Robert Mugabe.

Mutasa, together with a host of other ex-Zanu PF officials kicked out of the party in 2014 due to their association with ousted Vice-President Joice Mujuru, were now pale shadows of their former selves.

With his political career appearing to be in its twilight, Mutasa now has a political lifeline thrown at him after Mujuru launched her Zimbabwe People First party.

At the launch of the much-talked about political outfit, Mutasa looked jovial, with a radiant face — a tale of a man, who has found his lost love and is hoping to bounce back in the corridors of power.

When asked by NewsDay Weekender recently how he felt being outside government for over a year now, the former State security minister said: “It was a moment to reflect and re-connect with people, who are suffering at the hands of disrespectful government.”

Mutasa said his political career was not yet over.

“I have served my country in various sectors and now, together with other progressive citizens, we wish to contribute to national development by putting the people first,” he said.

“The leader of People First, Amai Mujuru, is definitely going to be the next leader of this country and those who wrote our political obituaries must re-think.”

Today, Mutasa is in the council of elders for the People First party, where, along with Rugare Gumbo and other veterans of the liberation struggle, will act as the citadel of wisdom to the party’s executive leadership.

Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, the former Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister, was confident saying: “I said it from day one, the Lord is on our side and who could be against us.”

Bhasikiti said he was never in political wilderness because “the Lord did everything for a purpose”.

“I said it when I was fired from Zanu PF on false allegations that the Lord has a better assignment for me and indeed, this is one such assignment meant to empower the people of Zimbabwe. Unlike the previous life, here, we are putting the wishes and aspirations of the people first,” he said.

“I have enjoyed life and appreciated the importance of the people while working with Mai Mujuru and other comrades in the People First. We are going to be the next government because there is no Zanu PF to talk about anymore.”
The two ex-Zanu PF heavyweights are not the only ones who have been given a political lifeline by the launch of the People First project.

The same could be said of Bright Matonga, the former Mhondoro-Ngezi MP, John Mvundura, Gumbo and David Butau, among others.

Gumbo is the interim spokesperson and sits in the elders council, while Nguni is the personal assistant to Mujuru, tasked with the co-ordination of the party on a day to day basis.

The entry of People First could be indeed sweet news to young politicians who have failed to shine while in Zanu PF, although they had hoped to be leaders.

One such politician is Jim Kunaka, who earned himself the bad boy tag for leading a shadowy militia group, Chipangano, which terrorised opposition supporters and other people in Mbare.

For Gumbo, his expulsion from Zanu PF seemed like an end to his political career, considering his age.

“We are laying this foundation for younger generations. It’s not about us, but you, the young ones, because we realised that Mugabe and his Zanu PF have forgotten about the ideals and ethos of the liberation struggle,” he said.

“We are now old, but we have a duty to lay a foundation for you, the next generation and build a legacy that you will be happy to talk about our contribution in the liberation struggle. The People First is not about power and position, but putting the interest of this country and its people ahead of our wants and wishes. This is where we now differ with that Zanu PF cabal.”

It is not only the ex-Zanu PF stalwarts, who have been thrown a lifeline with the coming in of Mujuru’s party.

Several former MDC-T members can count themselves among politicians again after being discarded by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led party.

Political analyst, Ernest Mudzengi said Mujuru’s entry into opposition politics could mark a re-birth of political careers for some who were in political dustbins and had no hope of resurrecting.

“It breathes in a fresh idea and renews hope of a democratic state. It now depends on how these guys will handle their political strategy. Some could bounce back into the mainstream politics and be a force to reckon with either as a ruling class or opposition members,” he said.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure said Mujuru and her camp have destiny in their hands and the way they handle it, will shape their political endgame.

“It’s a journey they have begun, hoping that they reach the ‘promised land’. Not only has the project resurrected political careers of people like Mutasa and others, it gives them an opportunity to cap their careers with a different persuasion,” he said. – NewsDay

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