FORMER vice president, Joice Mujuru, has called on her former ZANU-PF allies who wish to join her party, the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), to quickly make up their minds or risk being left by the wayside.
In an interview with the Financial Gazette this week, Mujuru lashed out at those who are toying with the decision to join her party, saying she would not wait for them to take their sweet time.
“Some have openly said they are no longer in good books with me and why would I want to cling to such people,” she said, giving the clearest indication yet of how relations have soured among her allies since the fateful December 2014 congress.
Warning those sitting on the fence she added: “I want to work with someone who would make up their minds and say we are in this together, not the one who says don’t worry, I will work with you when such a time comes. That person would be lying.
“I want somebody who would just tell you the truth. Those still in ZANU-PF, if they want to call it a day, they must call it a day and must come out in the open to say, Mai Mujuru, let’s work together. That’s the person I want to work with, who makes a decision. Others made their decision and said ‘my dear, take your own way, I take mine.’ That one I will respect, not those who are fence sitters. They are difficult to work with,” she said.
Over 200 ZANU-PF officials were either chucked out or suspended from the ruling party for their alleged association with her.
ZANU-PF has inadvertently revealed how popular and influential Mujuru had been in the ruling party by expelling and suspending hundreds of its senior officials, on allegations that they were plotting to dethrone President Robert Mugabe.
ZANU-PF Politburo member, Jonathan Moyo, one of the foremost anti-Mujuru campaigners, actually later dismissed Mujuru’s coup plot allegations as mere political banter.
The purge affected over half of the ZANU-PF Politburo and Central Committee, the two highest organs of the party and virtually deflated Cabinet, representing her immense influence.
Even in Parliament, the majority of ZANU-PF legislators were linked to her, with reports also suggesting that it was only a matter of time before Members of Parliament started flocking to her.
ZANU-PF had to embark on a massive restructuring exercise that left the grassroots structures heavily defaced.
But months after ZPF’s launch the mass exodus has not happened, with most of the notables that suffered ZANU-PF sanction for hobnobbing with her nowhere to be seen.
While a handful, notably Dzikamai Mavhaire, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Sylvester Nguni, have firmly stuck with her, even taking up leadership positions in ZPF, the majority of the heavyweights appear to have retreated into their shells, most probably hoping to be given another chance to return to ZANU-PF.
The ruling party has set up an appeals committee to hear their cases, and so they are patiently waiting on the fence to see how things would proceed.
In fact, the ZANU-PF Politburo last week readmitted deputy Minister for Industry and Commerce, Chiratidzo Mabuwa, who was serving a two year suspension for aligning with Mujuru.
The appeals committee is currently hearing a number of other cases.
Notable fence sitters include former ministers such as Nicholas Goche, Olivia Muchena, Flora Buka, Webster Shamu, Francis Nhema, Paul Chimedza, Munacho Mutezo, Tendai Savanhu, Tongai Muzenda and dozens of Members of Parliament and influential figures such as Ray Kaukonde, Killian Gwanetsa, Enoch Porusingazi, and David Butau among many others — all of whom were either expelled or suspended from the ruling party for backing Mujuru.
While those who are still serving as legislators on a ZANU-PF ticket can be forgiven for wanting to keep their seats and see their terms through, it is quite a mystery why some with just about nothing to lose have failed to come out in the open.
Of all those who have been at the receiving end of vile slurs for associating with Mujuru, Chimanimani West legislator, Munacho Mutezo, was the only one to openly sever ties with ZANU-PF and follow Mujuru.
Shamu has been desperately trying every trick in the book to bounce back into the party, even resorting to jaw-dropping bootlicking.
Sources in ZPF, which is expected to hold its inaugural congress in October, said some of those yet to make up their minds were pushing for postponement of the congress to late next year to allow them some more time in Parliament, with general elections due the following year.
The rest of the party, however, is adamant that congress should go ahead as scheduled.
Sources also said some of the bigwigs were afraid of losing possessions they got courtesy of ZANU-PF, given the ruling party’s well-known culture of retribution.
President Mugabe’s administration runs a complex patronage system, which affords those feeding off it all the liberty they want, only to pounce on them once they develop different political opinions.
Since addressing her first major rally in Bulawayo last month, Mujuru has upped the political tempo in recent weeks by lining up a series of provincial rallies across the country where decent crowds have been attending.
She hopes to become the country’s first female president and the first former ZANU-PF senior official to upset the ruling party at polls scheduled for 2018. financial gazette