FORMER Vice-President and opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader Joice Mujuru has rolled out a national campaign programme with 10 rallies lined up in different parts of the country this month ahead of the party’s official launch on July 30.
She kicks off her campaign this Saturday with a star rally at Stanley Square in Makokoba, Bulawayo.
In an audacious move, Mujuru — who served as President Robert Mugabe’s deputy for a decade before her expulsion from Zanu PF in December 2014 — is planning to launch her opposition party at an open space behind Rainbow Towers Hotel, the same spot where the ruling party severed its ties with her 19 months ago.
It is also the place where thousands of Zanu PF youths converged last month for their so-called million-man march in solidarity with Mugabe and named the site after the veteran leader.
The site has now assumed symbolic political significance, as it is also where Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T held its “Cross-over Rally” ahead of the 2013 harmonised elections and christened the place Freedom Square.
ZimPF spokesperson Jealous Mawarire yesterday said his party preferred calling the site Civic Centre.
“We are the only party identifying that space by its rightful name because Harare City Council has designated it for a civic centre,” he said.
“Starting this weekend, we will be holding provincial rallies across the country and from Harare we have scheduled other rallies in Masvingo (July 6), Manicaland (July 9), Matabeleland North (July 13), and Mashonaland West (July 20). The others are yet to finalise dates, but after that we will gather for an official launch at a venue to be advised and likely on July 30,” he said.
This will be Mujuru’s first public test and will likely be used to gauge her strength to pull crowds in Zimbabwe’s politics.
Mujuru was kicked out of Zanu PF alongside several party stalwarts as part of a brutal purge targeting officials accused of plotting Mugabe’s downfall, a charge she has denied.
Her decision to join opposition politics seems to have rattled the ruling party, forcing it to set up an internal tribunal to pardon Mujuru’s acolytes and in the process reduce her national appeal and influence.
Since her axing from both the ruling party and government, Mujuru lay low — making a single public appearance at a Press briefing in the capital early this year, where she acknowledged she was the ZimPF leader — before fading away from the public glare.
Political commentator Austin Chakaodza yesterday said it was time Mujuru moved in for the kill.
“It is about time. I think it was a strategy on Mujuru’s part and movement to lie low in the early stages of their formation. Obviously they were anticipating infiltration by security agents and sizing up the response from the public,” he said.
“I think she is satisfied now and has made the decision to take the plunge. It is probably what is required in confronting Zanu PF.
“Playing it safe is the name of the game and Mujuru realises it is time, having cut her political teeth in that party. She should by now probably have come up with some sort of alternative or solutions to the crisis bedevilling the country.”
Chakaodza’s sentiments were echoed by academic and publisher Ibbo Mandaza.
“It’s a high stakes game, everyone is anticipating a vacuum given the implosion in Zanu PF. It’s a free for all,” he said.
“It’s time to act and come out of her cocoon. Indications are that she has a groundswell of support and it’s not surprising because she has at least more than half of Zanu PF. This support highly likely is just waiting for some sort of leadership and her decision should give us pointers.” newsday