HARARE - Ii is now officially game on between President Robert Mugabe and his former long-serving deputy, Joice Mujuru, after the popular widow of the late liberation struggle icon, Solomon Mujuru, gave written notice yesterday that she would be taking Zanu PF head-on in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
This means that as previously predicted by the Daily News, a political thriller of epic proportions — if Zanu PF does not typically resort to violence to retain its iron grip on power — is on the cards in the 2018 polls, with the indefatigable former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his re-awakening main opposition MDC also strongly in the mix.
Mugabe’s warring party split into two bitterly-opposed formations at the end of last year at the height of its internal ructions, with its purged liberation struggle stalwarts moving to initiate the re-establishment of the “original” Zanu PF — which uses the slogan People First. In a statement yesterday, announcing her political outfit’s Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development (Build) in the country, Mujuru assured her supporters that she had been hard at work since her last statement in early June in which she savaged the post-congress Zanu PF and apologised to Zimbabweans for the mistakes that she and her erstwhile colleagues in the ruling party had made since 1980.
“I wish to share with you, in brief, how we propose to translate our vision for a better Zimbabwe into reality, through the proposed Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development,” she said.
Moving to distinguish People First from the post-congress Zanu PF, Mujuru said their policies would be informed by a desire to see Zimbabwe move forward as a proud member of the international community; a determination to create a just and equitable society in which all people would be treated equally in line with the founding principles of the liberation struggle; and a desire to see the country grow and create equal opportunities for all.
“Zimbabwe must move forward, economically, socially and politically. Let us BUILD Zimbabwe together,” she implored Zimbabweans, adding that the country belonged to all the people who called it home, regardless of colour, creed, disability, gender, race or religious background.
“Together we can BUILD Zimbabwe into a modern democratic State, with a vibrant economy where every citizen is responsible for peace, freedom, democracy and can prosper,” she said.
Explaining for the first time in detail what People First stood for, Mujuru said, “We are national democrats, guided by the values of the liberation struggle, of self-determination, self-dignity, self-pride, expressed through the adoption of market-driven policies under a constitutional democracy, with the State acting as a facilitator and regulator to allow for a level playing field and to provide equal opportunities for all”.
Getting into the details of their policies, she said the civil service would be apolitical under the party, which would promote meritocracy and professionalism. Crucially — at a time that ghost workers are a major problem for the State — People First would commission a biometric skills audit to inform an effective manpower planning and development strategy, and to ensure effective service delivery.
“We shall clearly define the roles of ministers, deputy ministers and heads of ministries. We shall promote accountability and transparency by giving the Auditor-General more resources and authority to initiate or recommend criminal prosecution.
“We shall encourage and promote a “small but effective” government structure. We shall review the State Procurement Act in line with international best practice and BUILD, in order to ensure transparency, timely delivery on national projects and value for money.
“We shall ensure that Government’s role is to facilitate, promote and regulate a level and sustainably stable economic playing field. We shall establish as a think-tank, a Presidential Economic and Advisory Centre for Excellence (Peace), made up of experts from various sectors, to advise, assist, comment on and support government policy formulation, implementation and review,” Mujuru said.
In terms of democracy and human rights, she said People First supported a free press, stating unequivocally that they would repeal the hated and misnamed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) which was passed in 2002 and later used to unjustly shut down the Daily News for nearly eight years in September 2003.
They would also review the licensing criteria under the Broadcasting Services Act, allow diasporans to vote, acknowledge dual citizenship, repeal the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and replace it with a modern legislation that would be in line with the Constitution, align the Criminal Code Codification and Reform Act to the Constitution, and amend the Electoral Act to “FULLY comply with the Constitution’s provisions and requirements”.
On property rights, they would enforce, promote, and respect property rights and address historical compulsory acquisition through fair and transparent compensation. They would also respect and uphold the rule of law by treating all people equally before the law,
“All political leaders should be accountable to PEOPLE FIRST and observe State laws. We want our political leaders to be honest, have integrity and be trustworthy,” she said.
Turning to economic issues, she said her administration would engage bilateral and multilateral creditors and commit to a debt resolution strategy tied to the party’s socio-economic development initiatives under BUILD.
“A wholesale review of the Indigenisation Act will be effected. We shall emphasise economic empowerment that attracts investment and promotes the broad based socio-economic and infrastructure development objectives of BUILD,” she said.
On land, she said all people who called Zimbabwe “home” shall be entitled to access land and participate in its sustainable utilisation. They would also rationalise existing farm sizes in line with agro-economic regions and production capacity.
With regards to mining, People First would make mining legislation investor friendly, in line with International Best Practice under BUILD, and they would “ensure that the proceeds from the extractive sector flow to the people”.
On the key security sector, she said while they recognised and respected the role of the sector in fostering law and order, and maintaining peace and security in Zimbabwe, they would ensure that the security establishment was apolitical.
Commenting on Mujuru’s prospects in politics, senior researcher for Southern Africa for Human Rights Watch Dewa Mavhinga told the Daily News recently that the fact that she had been a minister for 24 years and a vice president for 10 years, meant that she had a significant following within Zanu PF and across Zimbabwe generally.
“Most of those fighting and opposing her in Zanu PF are mafikizolos (Johnny-come-latelies) who have no support base in Zanu PF and who rely on smear campaigns, violence and the use of sections of the security forces to bulldoze and impose their will upon Zanu PF structures.
“If Amai Joice Mujuru is given a fair chance in the absence of persecution and harassment, then it can be said with fair certainty that she is a front runner in an open, democratic process,” he said.
“But opposition forces are better off coming together to form a grand coalition to push for democratic reforms ahead of 2018,” Mavhinga added.
When Mujuru made her last statement in June, in which she savaged Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF and also apologised to Zimbabweans for mistakes that she and her erstwhile colleagues in the ruling party had made since 1980, it put the cat among the pigeons within the ranks of her Zanu PF enemies.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News then that the statement had rattled senior party bigwigs who had assumed that she no longer had the stomach for a fight and higher political ambitions after she was brutally purged from both the post-congress Zanu PF and government together with a coterie of her most loyal supporters.