THE formation of the proposed United People’s Movement (UPM) – expected to comprise senior Zanu PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials – is gathering momentum despite attempts by those behind it to remain underco
Sources said this week UPM has already set up significant underground structures and recruited key members from Zanu PF and the MDC at the provincial level. A senior Zanu PF central committee member, Pearson Mbalekwa, resigned over Operation Murambatsvina three months ago in what was seen as a precursor to the UPM’s formation.
A campaign song for the party, titled We Will Rock Them, has been released. The song is a hybrid tune that sounds more of a felicitous cross-flex between township jazz and South African mbaqanga music. It sounds as if it is meant to rally people to rock current political parties to their foundations.
The song, written in English, Shona and Ndebele, is understood to have been written by former Information minister Jonathan Moyo, expected to be one of the senior UPM officials. Moyo could neither confirm nor deny his role, saying only “a people’s movement is underway and those who will try to block it will be swimming against the current”.
Sources said a symbol of the party – balancing rocks – has been decided on, while a manifesto enunciating policies of the party has been written. It was said T-shirts and promotional material have also been printed.
The manifesto says the party will introduce a new policy paradigm which will deal with “Zanu PF’s corrosive leadership and policy failures” and “the MDC’s political impotence”. UPM critics have been saying unless the party comes up with cutting-edge and viable policies markedly different from those of Zanu PF and the MDC, it would be dead on arrival. The critics say UPM would not add value to the political system if it did not have a different political culture and policies to deliver prosperity.
There are fears it might be a replica of Zanu PF given that its leaders could be people who failed to take control of the ruling party and want to form a new organisation, not to introduce different policies but to gain power.
But the leaders of the party – who would be drawn from Zanu PF and the MDC ranks as well as civil society and business – were still unidentified to avoid detection and a backlash mostly by the ruling party.
A number of the UPM officials would come from the disgruntled Zanu PF faction associated with the Tsholotsho saga in which a camp led by party heavyweight Emmerson Mnangagwa almost seized power last November.
Although President Robert Mugabe launched a fierce backlash against Mnangagwa and his supporters, sources said the group had not been suppressed and could come back with a decisive push to either grab power from within Zanu PF or through the UPM.
The UPM – which is linked to the debate on the Third Way – seems to have its genesis in Zanu PF and MDC infighting although its movers and shakers say it is a “movement of the people”.
Source said UPM officials – including Moyo – had been traversing the country holding meetings, establishing structures and recruiting in preparation for a major assault on power during the scheduled 2008 presidential election.
Sources said although Moyo was involved he would be one of the party’s senior officials, not its leader. Sources said Moyo might not even make it into the top four unless he muscled his way there.
It was said the command structure of the party would be different from that of Zanu PF and the MDC because the organisation might not have a president but a chairman who would not necessarily be the presidential candidate during the 2008 election if it comes. Zanu PF is determined to avoid the election under the pretext of harmonising the presidential and parliamentary polls.
The election is now likely to be held in 2010 unless Zanu PF’s proposed constitutional amendment on the issue is blocked. The ruling party has a technical – not numerical – two-thirds majority in parliament which it used to pass recent constitutional amendments on the re-introduction of the senate.
President Robert Mugabe said the senate poll, which insiders say is part of his succession plan, would now be held next month. – Staff Writers.