HARARE - Former Vice President Joice Mujuru set the cat among the pigeons in President Robert Mugabe’s warring post-congress Zanu PF after she dramatically and unexpectedly announced her re-entry into formal national politics on Monday while releasing what analysts say was an “attractive and potent” manifesto for her People First movement.
The Daily News understands that the Zanu PF politburo, the party’s highest decision-making body outside congress, will now devote some of its discussions on Mujuru when it meets in Harare today, instead of the initial focus that was on the party’s escalating factional and succession wars that have seen combative national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, come under growing pressure from his swelling party enemies.
Well-placed sources told the newspaper last night that Mugabe and his close aides were also “worried sick” about a possible electoral pact between Mujuru — who is widely respected inside and outside Zanu PF — and the popular and battle-hardened opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, which would complicate the life of the already reeling and seriously divided ruling party.
To underscore the naked anxiety of the post-congress Zanu PF about Mujuru’s stunning gambit, its officials and sympathisers went into overdrive on social media yesterday, trying desperately to discredit both her manifesto and her political prospects going forward — but public sentiment was overwhelmingly against them.
As an example, one Twitter user who reacted to the rabid but predictable criticism of Mujuru’s manifesto by Zanu PF apparatchiks said sarcastically, “if only Gushungo (Mugabe) had consulted Joice before announcing his 10-point plan ZimAsset would be buzzing. #1980SoFarSoBad”.
And analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said although Mugabe had previously accused Mujuru and her supporters of corruption, it was unlikely that the increasingly frail nonagenarian would carry out his threats given the fact that the country’s State security sector, which is the bulwark of Zanu PF’s power, was divided along factional lines.
On his part, a confident former Presidential Affairs minister and close ally of Mujuru, Didymus Mutasa, vowed yesterday that his group of disaffected liberation struggle stalwarts would dethrone the post-congress Zanu PF from power and “unshackle Zimbabweans from their current chains of servitude”.
“Zimbabweans are very happy with our clear policy document and they are saying don’t forget us when you get in power,” he said, rejecting Zanu PF claims that their policy document, Build, was plagiarised from MDC blueprints and that it was a supposed negation of the ideals of the liberation struggle.
“Even if we copied the MDC, what is the problem with that? By the way, we are looking forward to working with that party. Our aim is to unite all parties so that we remove the post-congress Zanu PF from power.
“It doesn’t matter where we get ideas from, as long as these ideas do not come from Zanu PF,” Mutasa said, giving wind to suggestions that Mujuru is ready to discuss an electoral pact with Tsvangirai.
Mutasa also added that the People First leadership had “absolutely nothing to fear about anything” and that the party would not be deterred by “silly threats of prison”.
Academic Ibbo Mandaza was among the analysts who felt that it was unlikely that the State would move against Mujuru given the deep-seated divisions within the establishment.
“There has always been fear in Zanu PF following the post-congress purges. When purges go too far and are unrestrained, it simply means that the party becomes a minority party in numerical terms.
“The purges split both the party and the State and when the State is divided those in the profession of politics like (Higher Education minister) Jonathan Moyo and myself know what it means. That is why Zanu PF is panicking and there is every reason for the likes of Moyo to panic,” Mandaza said.
According to Mandaza, what was particularly causing disquiet in the ruling party was that it was no longer in control of the people.
Writing on Facebook, political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said Mujuru’s Build policy document contained “ideological clarity”.
“They are unlike Zanu PF that preaches socialism when they practice Stone Age capitalism, punctuated by criminal accumulation of wealth in a sea of national poverty. Not a bad start Cde Spill Blood! (Mujuru’s war time nickname — Teurai Ropa).
“Her challenge is how to put theory into practice. Plus Zanu PF will dash to criticise her position on indigenisation and fair compensation to those whose land was forcibly taken. They will argue she wants to return land to white farmers!” he warned.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure also warned Mujuru that she should now “budget for worse things than mere banter” from her erstwhile Zanu PF comrades.
“Arrest and harassment, including persecution are unfortunately part of the game in Zimbabwean politics under Zanu PF. It will be the height of naivety for Mujuru to expect that Zanu PF will fold its arms and not resort to its traditional brutal methods.
“She should be prepared for the worst because these are some of the occupational hazards for a Zimbabwean politician. It won’t be a walk in the park. The violent might of the State will descend heavily on her,” Masunungure said.
It became officially game on between Mugabe and Mujuru, after she gave written notice on Monday that she would be taking Zanu PF head-on in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
This means that as previously revealed 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 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 on Monday 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.”