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Mujuru faces revolt by loyalists

FORMER vice-president Joice Mujuru is facing a revolt from disgruntled allies and supporters suspended or expelled from Zanu PF ahead of, during and after the party’s December 2014 congress, forcing former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa to engage in political fire-fighting to keep things under control.

Owen Gagare

Several Zanu PF officials, including Mujuru, politburo members, central committee members and provincial officials, as well as youths were either suspended or expelled from Zanu PF for allegedly supporting the former vice-president’s presidential bid, in the largest purges in the history of the party.

Mujuru’s allies are still being hounded five months after congress, and many are disappointed that after failing to defend them in politburo meetings which led to their expulsions, Mujuru is now failing to provide leadership from outside as they are itching to challenge Zanu PF head on.

Those close to Mujuru, caught in a catch-22 situation on how to proceed, said this week she has confided in her close associates that she needs time to make up her mind before deciding on her course of action. Mujuru’s sympathisers are pushing for the establishment of a political party, People First, which they want to challenge Zanu PF in the 2018 elections. The former vice-president has been identified as a natural leader for the party, but has not committed herself due to a number of reasons, chief among them, procrastination, fear and personal interests.

Sources close to Mujuru say President Robert Mugabe’s former deputy is procrastinating as she has decided to tread cautiously, and fearing how vicious her political opponents are. This is despite Information minister Jonathan Moyo admitting in a recent interview with the BBC that charges levelled against her in the run-up to the party’s congress last December — which included a plot to assassinate Mugabe — were “political banter”.

Mujuru is reportedly citing how the Zanu PF leadership has dealt with internal rivals since the days of the liberation struggle, and how the party crushed political heavyweights such as Ndabaningi Sithole, Edgar Tekere and Edison Zvobgo for different reasons linked to infighting.

“There are several reasons why Mujuru is taking long to decide and announce her future plans. She is mainly citing how her husband (General Solomon Mujuru) was killed despite his political links and the connections he had in the security sector, especially the army and the intelligence,” said a party official. “She thinks if they were able to kill the general and sweep the matter under the carpet, she would be an easier target.

The official added: “Besides that, she fears they may go after her assets, reducing her to a pauper.”

Although some officials close to Mujuru insisted her silence was strategic as she would not want to plunge into politics headlong without ascertaining the level of support she had while also being cautious on the timing, most officials believe self-interest is at play and time is not on her side as her supporters’ patience wears thin.

While Mujuru takes her time, some officials and youths who had begun forming structures to force her hand have been openly expressing their disappointment over her lack of commitment.

Former Zanu PF Mashonaland West chairman Temba Mliswa last week blasted Mujuru for failing to defend officials purged for supporting her.

Mliswa, who has been mobilising youths and was tipped to lead the People First youth wing, hinted he was prepared to take another route other than supporting Mujuru.

“Mai Mujuru has been quiet, but I believe in leaders who stand up for the people,” Mliswa said. “If you go through a list of the number of people who suffered because of her, they are many. I sat down with my uncle (Didymus Mutasa) and said you were part of the (Zanu PF) politburo and when I was suspended what did you say? What did Mujuru say to defend me if people said I belonged to her?

“… I back leaders who are prepared to stand for us and ask what wrong did he do? They were silent until all of us went and they went too and now they want to fight back and want us to join them in their fight. I will never, not me!”

Some disgruntled former Zanu PF officials anxious over the direction Mujuru is taking and whether a party would eventually be formed, have been meeting Mutasa behind closed doors to demand answers on the way forward, sources said.

This week one senior Mujuru ally said: “Mujuru is behaving like a coward. Our patience has been overtaxed and it’s now running out. She must shape up or ship out.”

On Friday last week Mutasa met former Zanu PF officials from Mashonaland East province. He also met former party members from Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Harare and pleaded with them to be patient with Mujuru while also assuring them that they would challenge Zanu PF.

Youths pushing forward the People First agenda are distributing T-shirts and other regalia in provinces such as Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East. On the T-shirt is a colour portrait of General Mujuru in his ceremonial military uniform wearing all his medals.

The T-shirts are inscribed “Commander Par Excellence”.

Expelled Zanu PF officials say they would market the People First project using the retired late General Mujuru’s face until his widow “joins the struggle”.

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