SEVERAL former Zanu PF bigwigs, who were either expelled or suspended from the party together with ousted former vice president Joice Mujuru in 2014, have remained politically inactive despite Mujuru launching her Zimbabwe People First party leaving her without the critical mass which was behind her power in the former liberation movement.
By Elias Mambo
Sources in Zanu PF and People First said that some political heavyweights expelled from the ruling party ahead of and after the 2014 congress were contemplating re-joining the party as they were not sure how Mujuru’s party would fare, while those suspended want the suspensions lifted.
Others have found the going tough economically since their ouster and are keen to re-join Zanu PF to secure their livelihoods.
“Among those who are keen to have their expulsions and suspensions lifted are former politburo members Webster Shamu, Tendai Savanhu and Nicholas Goche, who are all being courted by the G40 faction.
“Former deputy minister Chiratidzo Mabhuwa is also looking at joining the G40 faction which is engaging a number of Mujuru’s supporters behind the scenes,” said a senior Zanu PF official.
“Some senior officials, among them former indigenisation minister, Francis Nhema, Olivia Muchena (former Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development), Andrew Langa (former sports minister) and Flora Buka (former minister of state for presidential affairs, have remained under the political radar, while former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda has been conspicuous by his absence from People First rallies, although he says he is still with Mujuru.”
Mujuru has also lost firebrand former Mashonaland West chairman Temba Mliswa, who has formed Youth Advocacy for Reform and Democracy. Mliswa had expressed his displeasure over Mujuru’s failure to defend party officials who were expelled from the party and her failure to quickly form a political party to challenge Zanu PF.
Those who have openly stood with Mujuru include former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, former energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, former minister of state Sylvester Nguni, former deputy minister of energy Munacho Mutezo and former Masvingo minister of state for provincial affairs Kudakwashe Bhasikiti.
Former Manicaland chairman John Mvundura, who was part of the nine provincial chairpersons dismissed from the party ahead of the December 2014 congress, has also stuck with Mujuru although the majority of his peers have remained in the background.
In an interview on Wednesday, Jealousy Mawarire, a senior member in Mujuru’s media and information committee, said People First is not worried about the bigwigs’ failure to openly associate with Mujuru.
“There is nothing like bigwig in People First,” Mawarire said adding: “What we have is a people’s party that unites different Zimbabweans.”
He added: “We are building our own bigwigs from the youths and those who have been affected by Zanu PF’s misrule.
“So it is not about which former politburo member is now with Mujuru and which one has gone back to Zanu PF. People First is for all those who want to rebuild this country’s hope which has been decimated by years of misrule.”