The New Patriotic Front (NPF) formed by remnants of Zanu PF's former faction known as G40 has demanded that former President Robert Mugabe be accorded his constitutional rights to association and other freedoms.
In a stinging statement, NPF spokesperson Jealous Mawarire said President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration must stop harassing Mugabe who reportedly has rendered his support to the new party led by former Mashonaland East provincial affairs minister Ambrose Mutinhiri.
"The NPF calls on the Zanu PF Junta and its associated propaganda mouthpieces to stop their rabid, divisive and unconstitutional attacks on President Mugabe that have gone out of control and are now threatening peace and stability in the country.
"The past week has seen outrageous and desperate attacks on President Robert Mugabe by Emmerson Mnangagwa, youths of ZanuPF-Junta and its propaganda mouthpieces in the print and electronic media," Mawarire said.
Mnangagwa succeeded Mugabe in the aftermath of a military coup in November last year. While Mugabe initially agreed to resign, the former Zanu PF leader has since told AU chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat that the current government is illegal.
The statement said while the NPF does not speak on Mugabe's behalf, it was clear authorities had been miffed by his association with the party.
"While NPF does not speak for President Mugabe, we take exception to the self-evident and thus unavoidable fact that the unconstitutional attacks on President Mugabe by Zanu PF Junta are directly linked to the audience he gave at his Blue Roof Residence to NPF's President and Presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections, Rtd Brig General Ambrose Mutinhiri," the NPF said.
"Everyone can see that the intimidation, blackmail and demonisation of President Mugabe is designed to prevent him from exposing the fact that the15 November 2017 military coup was unconstitutional."
Mnangagwa, the NPF added, also wants to effectively lock out Mugabe and: "deny him his constitutional rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association; and to force him to legitimatise and endorse the election of the very same people who criminally and unconstitutionally removed him from office through a bloody military coup and who are now illegally and illegitimately running the country through ZanuPF-Junta."
Mawarire scoffed at State comparisons between Mugabe and former South African President Jacob Zuma's situation arguing the neighbouring country's army had not intervened in political party internal politics. Zuma was recalled by ruling ANC party and replaced by Cyril Rhamaposa.
State media has been on Mugabe's case since he met Mutinhiri while the Zanu PF youth league chanted slogans denigrating the former President at its meeting last week. Mnangagwa also indicated he was watching Mugabe's moves.