HARARE – Serious jockeying for top party positions has reached fever pitch in former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s new kid on the political block, the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), as it prepares to elect a substantive executive before the end of the year — following its dramatic launch earlier this year.
While the party is yet to confirm the exact dates for its people’s convention, the Daily News understands that this could take place as early as next month — amid indications that some heavyweights could fall by the wayside, although Mujuru herself is unlikely to face a challenge as ZPF leader, ahead of Zimbabwe’s watershed 2018 national elections.
However, party spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said yesterday that they welcomed the anticipated stiff competition for positions, as this would strengthen both the party and the country’s democratic culture.
“We are going to have rallies in all the constituencies before we hold the convention. The exact timing will be determined by the amount of work we would have done and once all the processes will have been completed, then we will have the convention.
“In any democratic political party, contestations are very welcome and we encourage as many people as possible to come forward to contest.
“What we would like is to have the best person elected for every post, and every card carrying member is free to campaign,” Mawarire said.
However, insiders told the Daily News that while Mujuru’s position was not under serious threat as she was seen as “the natural leader and face of the party”, there was serious jostling for other top party posts.
“It’s dog-eat-dog inside the party as we speak. I can tell you that there will be many shocks and don’t be surprised if some big names don’t make it,” one of the well-placed sources said.
According to ZPF’s constitution, the party’s top five officials will be elected at the people’s convention, and its national executive council (Nec) will be its highest decision making body — which will comprise the president, vice president, party chairperson, secretary-general and treasurer-general.
The sources who spoke to the Daily News said some heavyweights who were part of the high-ranking officials who were sacked from Zanu PF along with Mujuru in 2014 risked being swept aside by younger, relatively unknown politicians.
Among the ZPF bigwigs who were said to be interested in being elected into the party’s Nec were former ministers Sylvester Nguni, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Dzikamai Mavhaire and Ray Kaukonde.
Former Masvingo provincial affairs minister and a close ally of Mujuru, Bhasikiti, is said to have pitched his bid for the party’s vice presidency, which the sources also said was being eyed by former war veterans chairman Jabulani Sibanda.
“People might be jockeying for positions in the belief that the convention could be held in October but I am not.
“Yes, I have been said to be interested in being the vice president, but I am more interested in building the party structures.
“I cannot of course rule out latent jockeying for the various posts,” Bhasikiti told the Daily News.
On his party, the normally garrulous Sibanda said he was not yet ready to discuss the party’s issues.
It was not clear yesterday whether ZPF’s constitution made it mandatory to consider regional balancing in choosing its leadership, as is the case with both the MDC and Zanu PF.
Businessman David Butau and former deputy minister Bright Matonga were also said to be eyeing executive posts.
Interestingly, Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo — who formed part of Mujuru’s inner circle during her time in Zanu PF — are said to be content with playing advisory roles.
Gumbo and Mutasa together with Mujuru were accused of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe before they were subsequently sacked from the ruling party in the run up to its shambolic 2014 congress.
ZPF is part of the 18 political parties coalescing under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), a group pressing for much-needed electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 elections.-Daily News