Fresh from springing a major surprise through former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s dramatic re-entry into formal national politics a fortnight ago, the People First movement is cranking up the heat on President Robert Mugabe and his warring post-congress Zanu PF.
The Daily News learnt from impeccable sources last night that many Zanu PF Members of Parliament who are aligned to Mujuru are contemplating resigning their seats en masse, in a move that could trigger early national polls and put Mugabe and his bitterly-divided ruling party under even more pressure.
The nonagenarian and his post-congress Zanu PF are also reeling from not just the ruling party’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars, but also the possibility of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mujuru agreeing to an electoral pact in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
While official spokespersons for the MDC and the People First movement have been coy about their dialogue — choosing instead to talk broadly about the need for “like-minded forces” to work together to engender democracy in Zimbabwe — sources have told the Daily News that depending on the progress of the talks that are taking place through emissaries, the two leaders could meet formally soon.
A number of Zanu PF legislators, some of them currently on suspension from the party on suspicions that they are loyal to Mujuru, told the Daily News last night that they were prepared to jump ship in a bid to “end the current political madness” in the country and to force early national elections — possibly next year.
“Yes, we are going to leave Zanu PF when the time comes. Isn’t it that we are being hounded on a daily basis by mafikizolos (party Johnny-come-latelies). For now, we will strategically remain quiet because if they establish that we are no longer part of them, they will move first and hammer us,” one of the legislators said.
This comes as Mugabe, rattled by Mujuru’s dramatic re-entry into formal national politics, is embarking on a new wave of savage purges of her perceived allies in his warring post-congress Zanu PF and government — creating pandemonium and much trepidation among senior party officials, especially those who are in Cabinet.
Mugabe fired Sports minister Andrew Langa from Cabinet last week, replacing him with former journalist and Mberengwa East legislator Makhosini Hlongwane — a few days after the nonagenarian effected a major and much-criticised reshuffle of his executive team.
Fear also abounds among the party’s MPs who are regarded with suspicion that if they break camp now they could lose everything, including their farms and the Ford Everest vehicles they were given ahead of the disputed 2013 elections.
The ruling party has already started stripping most of Mujuru’s loyalists of the possessions they received when they were still part of the gravy train. For example, former politburo member and Masvingo resident minister, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, told the Daily News that he had since lost his car, a Ford Everest, with his farm also on the line.
“Soon after the announcement of our (People First) blueprint, the CIO came to take my car saying they were ordered by (Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius) Chombo to take it from me.
“However, going forward, elections in Zimbabwe will not be won by those who have many cars, but by those whose political and economic blueprint is acceptable to the generality of the Zimbabwean electorate. If they thought they were giving cars to enslave and win elections, they are wrong,” Bhasikiti said.
Mujuru launched her Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development (Build) a fortnight ago, throwing Zanu PF into panic mode and even provoking the open ire of Mugabe, who bizarrely went on to threaten the independent media for propping up his former second-in-command.
In a move that was probably intended to forestall the kind of mass resignations that Mujuru’s MPs are contemplating, Mugabe granted a blanket amnesty to all legislators linked to Mujuru last January — a number estimated at about 100 MPs, and many of whom are serving varying suspension terms ranging from two to five years.
“Even if we are to finish our terms, there is no guarantee that we will be re-admitted in the post-congress Zanu PF, and so it is better to start planning for a better tomorrow now.
“The only problem at the moment is if you leave you will lose contact with the constituency and also the resources that will be eventually needed to campaign for elections,” another legislator told the Daily News yesterday.
A State media columnist, Nathaniel Manheru — who is widely believed to be Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba — is on record warning those MPs aligned to Mujuru that they would face the boot if they are discovered.
“...there is a readiness to take hard decisions, to settle the whole matter comprehensively, even if it means another mini-general election. So let no sitting MP think that there is a fear to expel, a fear to go back to the people (in an election),” he said recently.
All this is also happening at a time that many veterans of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation are throwing their weight behind Mujuru as she plots her assault on Mugabe’s and the post-congress Zanu PF’s vice grip on power ahead of the 2018 national elections.
In addition, and in what observers say will work to Mujuru’s and Tsvangirai’s favour, the rumpus between Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supporters and Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks, who are known as the Generation 40 (G40), is turning uglier by the day.