10 February 2017

Zimbabwe: Mujuru, Zimpf Going Nowhere Fast

Photo: The Standard
Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru.

The chickens are finally coming home to roost and it is Neil Gaiman who aptly summarises the chaotic goings-on in the Joice Mujuru-led Zimbabwe People First party when he says: "Loyalty is a great thing, but no lieutenants should be forced to choose between their leader and a circus with elephants." After weeks of reports of a house divided, things finally came to a head on Wednesday, with Mujuru, in her capacity as interim party leader drawing first blood, when she called a press conference where she expelled seven co-founders of ZimPF in absentia -- Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa, Margaret Dongo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Luckson Kandemiri, Munacho Mutezo and Claudious Makova.

She promised that more heads would roll, but she was upstaged as some of them resigned from the party yesterday as we report elsewhere in this issue.

Reading between the lines of her press release, it is quite clear that Mujuru sensed that a tsunami was coming her way and she manoeuvred and decided to upstage her foes before they could denounce her leadership style and also firing her.

But the initial expulsion was just the beginning in an already thickening plot. It turned out that the rest of the day and yesterday would turn out to be more dramatic, chaotic and confusing, as the seven members also held a press conference, where they made a laundry list of accusations and counter-accusations against Mujuru, saying that she had no right to expel them, since they were the once who appointed her interim leader.

You do not have to be from Mars to realise that they stuck together just to keep up appearances. Comical though it might be, it reveals quite a lot about the state of Zimbabwe's opposition body politic.

Mujuru as leader could not take responsibility of the implosion, split, collapse, disintegration and/or fragmentation of the party. She chose to blame her lieutenants and the ruling Zanu-PF party. She claimed that some of the people she fired were sleeping with the enemy and this was an impediment to their progress.

"We are equally aware of the desperate efforts by the Zanu-PF regime to ensure that Zimbabwe People First fails on its mandate to be the next Government. Without equivocation, it is on public record that (President) Mugabe has boasted that there shall be ZimPF one, two and so on," read the statement.

At least she remembers that her former boss told her that she was swimming in uncharted waters and they will end up the MDC way, where there are now so many, minus the people.

There is also that feeling that her statement might have been crafted from one of the regime change agenda templates and she just peppered it with terms like "revolutionary journey" to make it sound Zimbabwean.

In hindsight, Bhasikiti must be ruing why he did not heed President Mugabe's rebuke when he told him in 2014: "Why are you in the wrong basket, Mr Bhasikiti? You should get out of the wrong basket. I hear that you are not consistent. Get into the right basket."

But what does this all say about Mujuru? If ZimPF is a people's party, why should the presser be held so far away from the people, at her Chisipite home?

Why was Mujuru also scared to tell her colleagues in their faces that they were fired, especially when she claims that they had done "extensive consultations within the rank and file of the party?"

Now that the collapse is quite imminent, will we see Mujuru joining MDC-T, considering that the imminent coalition of ZimPF and the former were a weekly affair in the privately-owned media?

But to understand Mujuru and how she has gone this far, there is need to retrace her steps from the time she joined the liberation struggle in 1973, up to 2014 when she was expelled from Zanu-PF.

Some of the war veterans who joined her to come up with this outfit know her and are not surprised about the way she denounces her roots. Isn't it also surprising that since ZimPF came into existence, Mujuru did not see it fit to have women in leadership positions? Does she feel threatened by her peers?

That trend also dates back to the days when she was a senior Government official. Women have complained that she did nothing to ensure that they are empowered.

What is also surprising from the expelled seven's presser is that they reveal that Mujuru arrived at her decision because of "the bad advice from crooks, relatives, the Nzous and corrupt cronies, some of whom are fugitives from justice."

So, ZimPF is acknowledging that it is aiding and abetting criminals by giving them a home. The imminent collapse of ZimPF also raises questions about the dummies that opposition political parties sell to the people.

They promise change, jobs and better lives after removing the Zanu-PF Government from office. This has been the bait for them to get donor funding and this is the bigger story behind what was said at the press conferences, a broader picture that needs to be unravelled and critiqued.

We know where the donors come from and what they want, but it's time that people are made to know and understand that following every new political party that comes up is an exercise in futility, because it benefits a few people and not them.

A busy season is once more distracted by fly-by-night parties and the question is whether the "simplistic" assumption of running a country still seems so simple to Mujuru?

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