ZIMBABWE – EX-ZANU PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde, who is believed to be one of the leading lights in the new political outfit made up of former ruling party leaders, has denied any links to People First.
Kaukonde was sacked from Zanu PF in May this year after being deposed from his position as chairperson late last year as tempers boiled over ahead of the ruling party’s elective congress.
He was accused along with then Vice President Joice Mujuru of plotting against President Robert Mugabe.
They have denied the charges that include treason-accusations which have never been brought before a court of law, leading to higher education minister Jonathan Moyo describing them as political banter.
It is ridiculous to associate me with People First. Have you ever heard me say anything to do with that political party? Does it have offices and where are they? That is madness, said a laughing Kaukonde in an interview on Wednesday.
Why are people running? Is it hunger? Why do people want to provoke things that do not exist? I am just keeping quiet waiting to sue and make my money.
Mujuru has been linked to the new outfit along with the likes of Rugare Gumbo, former Zanu PF spokesperson, and ex-secretary administration Didymus Mutasa among a host of other officials who were fired from the ruling party as factional fights got ugly.
Kaukonde said those trying to associate him with the People First Project were out to get me and soil my name.
His comments follow a report produced this week by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) which said Mugabe had deployed state security agents to violently weed out residents in the poor neighbourhood of Tafara in Harare at which Kaukonde had reportedly held a rally.
The coming onto the scene of the as yet shadowy People First party – which Mujuru is speculated to be fronting though she is yet to confirm this herself – also triggered some violent reactions from state agents.
Particularly in Tafara, where following a rally by ousted Zanu PF cadre, Ray Kaukonde, on behalf of this party, police descended in the area later that evening and again a few days later and beat up some people randomly, the ZPP report said.
ZPP is led by former by former ZBC news anchor turned human rights activist Jestina Mukoko.
A few years ago, Mukoko was abducted and tortured by state agents.
But Kaukonde dismissed the ZPP report.
I have never been to Tafara and even if you ask the police they will tell you nothing of that sought ever happened, said Kaukonde the former Marondera Central MP.
Mujuru seems to have bought into the People First project after causing the publication of a manifesto with the title: Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development (BUILD) indicating she is preparing for an assault on 91 year-old Mugabe’s throne come 2018.
She has, however, remained in political hibernation while Gumbo makes statements and responds to media inquisitions.