Zimbabwe opposition leader Joice Mujuru has moved with speed to consolidate her position in the crisis-riddled Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party after a dramatic fallout with founding members last week.
Turmoil has engulfed the new kid in the country’s opposition after Mujuru last Wednesday fired six of her key allies, among them former state security minister Didymus Mutasa, ex-Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, her aide Sylvester Nguni, former legislator Claudius Makova, Kudawashe Bhasikiti and Margret Dongo, a veteran opposition politician and one-time fire-brand Zanu-PF legislator.
The expelled lieutenants have in turn said they have fired Mujuru as the leader of the party.
But information obtained by News24 on Tuesday indicated that the former Zanu-PF vice president has lined-up provincial executive committee meetings in the country’s 10 provinces to shore-up her support and grip on the party.
She was in Masvingo on Sunday. On Monday she held a provincial executive committee in Bindura, the provincial capital of Mashonaland Central – her perceived stronghold where she has been a legislator for more than two decades.
Mujuru was scheduled to visit other remaining provinces in the coming days, said ZPF spokesperson Jealous Mawarire, adding that his boss was unfazed by the “hullabaloo” within her party.
“The President (Mujuru) is seized with (PEC) Provincial Executive Committee meetings. She will not do face-no-face interviews,” Mawarire told News24 on Tuesday.
He shrugged off fears Mugabe’s former deputy’s party formed last March faced imminent collapse.
“We can only get stronger and more focused. The party was neither Gumbo nor Mutasa so their expulsion doesn’t signify its collapse,” he said.
But critics were adamant Mujuru and her party risked being considered as junior partners in on-going negotiations to form a coalition of opposition forces.
ZPF is currently engaged in delicate negotiations with the main opposition MDC-T and other opposition political parties to forge a so-called grand alliance to wrestle power from President Robert Mugabe in next year’s polls.
According to Rita Makarau, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the body charged with holding elections in the country, were tentatively set for July 2018.
The critics maintained that Mujuru’s political standing has been “dented”.
Political analyst, Vivid Gwede, said that Mujuru’s former close associates have put a damper on her pedigree.
“Since she has an eye on the coalition, it is like now ex-lovers pooh-poohing a fiancée at a wedding… she can’t lead the coalition now although she remains and important player,” said Gwede.
Political analyst Ricky Mukonza concurred, adding: “There is no doubt this will negatively affect the morale of its supporters and will discourage new members from joining, however, this development reflects on how as Zimbabweans we are unable to resolve political differences without causing a split.”
Mawarire however chipped in: “Critics will always find something to say but the talks and our convention will proceed. We are stronger and wiser without those fellows.”