FORMER Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First (PF) political movement has sensationally claimed several disgruntled top Zanu PF officials have indicated they were ready to jump ship and join her as soon as her movement transforms into a fully-fledged party.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/OBEY MANAYITI
PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo and former national war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda made the claims in separate interviews with NewsDay at the weekend.
“True, there are a lot of Zanu PF members who are not happy there because they are continuously intimidated, harassed, humiliated and being called names like Gamatox,” Gumbo said.
“We are interested in working with them and with people who will assist us end poverty, hunger, and provide service delivery and mend the economy in a voluntary organisation like People First.”
His sentiments were echoed by Sibanda who said: “We are getting calls every day from senior Zanu PF officials, who are pleading with us to form a party. They are saying they want to join us; they are pushing us to get the party up and running because they want to join.
“While they claim to be supporting Mugabe by day, they are betraying him by supporting opposition to his rule by night.” Incidentaly MKD leader Simba Makoni also made similar claims when he launched his movement in 2008. Only Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa defected from the ruling party to join him.
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Sibanda said there were, however, a few Zanu PF elites, who wanted President Robert Mugabe to continue clinging onto power in order to “safeguard their ill-gotten wealth”.
“There are some who are hanging around the old man, constantly lying to him. Whispering fear into his ear to make sure he remains as jumpy as they want him to be. These are criminals, who are only happy to protect their ill-gotten wealth by instilling fear in Mugabe,” he said.
“They are lying to Mugabe, they eat with him every day, but then seek to prop-up and fuel his opponents. That is betrayal and I feel bad because of such betrayal, I feel angry that people are doing this to an old man.”
Sibanda said Mugabe was “a terrified man, captured by a cabal of counter-revolutionaries bent on protecting their ill-gotten wealth”.
Early this year, Sibanda, was arrested for allegedly claiming that First Lady Grace Mugabe had instituted a “bedroom coup” and turned herself into a de facto prime minister.
His case is still pending before the courts.
But Zanu PF secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo yesterday scoffed at the claims, describing Mujuru and her followers as “failed politicians bereft of any ideas and with no intellectual sophistication”.
“Mujuru and her colleagues are failed politicians bereft of any ideas with no intellectual sophistication,” he told a Zanu PF campaign rally in Epworth.
“I wonder what those following them are after. She is seeking guidance to form a political party from the British and the Americans; she has turned into their poodle, a fool. Mujuru can go and form the party in those countries.”
Mujuru seems to have hit a raw nerve within the ruling party after publicising a policy document with her vision, which many have taken to be a manifesto.
The move forced Zanu PF into defensive mode and Chombo’s utterances betray a new trajectory of lumping liberation war heroine Mujuru with the usual ruling party mantra of characterising its opponents as being part of a western conspiracy of regime change.
Mujuru served as Mugabe’s deputy for 10 years before she was unceremoniously kicked out of both government and Zanu PF after the ruling party’s congress late last year on allegations of plotting to unconstitutionally wrest power.
She was booted out together with over 140 top party officials including some Cabinet ministers, provincial chairpersons and legislators.
Zanu PF insiders said at the time of her sacking, Mujuru controlled no less than half of the Zanu PF MPs elected in July 2013, the party’s central committee, politburo and enjoyed enormous grassroots support. Hundreds other officials have also been suspended.
On Saturday, former Zanu Mashonaland West provincial chairman, Temba Mliswa, who was also axed, called on the remaining pro-Mujuru lawmakers to resign their seats and force an early election.
“We need those still sitting on the fence, those suspended and there are a lot of them, to resign their positions especially the MPs to force an early election.
“That will send a clear message to the regime that it is no longer in charge.
“But most of these are hesitant, with some having already been swallowed into the current factional fights between (Vice-President Emmerson) Mnangagwa and (party political commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere,” he said.