OUSTED former vice-president, Joice Mujuru is still sitting on the fence on becoming the inaugural leader of People First, a political party being mooted by disgruntled or expelled Zanu PF members despite participating in the formation of its policy framework, constitution and other groundwork activities, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
After months of indecision, Mujuru had informed disgruntled supporters she would participate in the project, but would only take up a leadership role when all the groundwork was firmly in place, including the setting up structures and formulation of clear policies and ideological direction to guide the party.
Officials pushing the People First agenda have however revealed that Mujuru had told her peers she still needs more time to reflect, after former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa had suggested the time was ripe for her to spring to action.
The meeting, held a fortnight ago in Harare, was meant to discuss progress made on the formulation of a working policy framework, party constitution and the setting up of provincial structures.
“It was after the meeting was held that ousted former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa asked Mujuru to take over leadership of the party,” one official involved said.
“What surprised members is that Mujuru insisted she wanted time to think about it yet the new political outfit centres around her.”
Mujuru’s response has reportedly dejected her supporters who believe they have enough support to challenge Zanu PF in the 2018 general elections.
Some of the people suspended or expelled from Zanu PF have fallen on hard times as they were earning a living through the party’s patronage system, and are itching to fight for their political lives.
They believe Mujuru would be a natural leader of the party and wanted her on board, moreso because they met their fate for supporting her.
Asked to comment on the matter this week, Mujuru professed ignorance on the matter.
“I am not aware of such an offer and whether there is a political party or not,” Mujuru said. “If the party is to be formed it has to be for the people of Zimbabwe not a small clique,” she said.
People First spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said Mujuru would come out when it is strategic to do so. He insisted she would challenge Zanu PF in 2018.
“We have always said that Mujuru will contest in 2018. It does not matter who Zanu PF will field but that person will be given a good run for his or her money because Mujuru is ready to take over,” Gumbo said.
Sources close to Mujuru recently told this newspaper that Mugabe’s former deputy is procrastinating as she has decided to tread cautiously, fearing a vicious backlash from her political opponents.
Mujuru was expelled from Zanu PF this year, while hordes of her supporters were either suspended or forced out, while some lost their government and party positions.
Some of the biggest casualties of the Zanu PF purges are Gumbo, Mutasa, former ministers such as Webster Shamu, Nicholas Goche, Olivia Muchena and Dzikamai Mavhaire, among others.
Former war veterans chairperson Jabulani Sibanda, who has been earmarked for the commissariat role in People First, was also expelled.