ZIMBABWE – Since the frenzy about People First started in the media, readers have been told that the party would be launched “soon,” making people wonder at the real import of that word considering that days, weeks, months have lapsed with no sight of its birth.
The yet to be launched People First project has been riding on a private media frenzy despite the fact that the outfit has not addressed a single known rally for one to gauge the extent to which it can make an impact on the political landscape.
What is strange about the frenzy gripping the private media is that some publications continue to recycle old articles as if that on its own would bring the project to life.
There is also a repeat of certain headlines several times, like “Mujuru gains ground”, or to the effect that the outfit was mulling a coalition with other opposition parties, leaving one wondering how a non-existent creature could merge with something that exists.
One hardly opens a page of the private media without stumbling on a story related to the People First outfit as if it had become a fully-fledged political party.
One wonders what it is that the People First has done to warrant such exalting and pampering coverage when the supposed leader has not even come out in the open to confirm if indeed she is the project president.
People First is a project, we are told, being fronted by deposed former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who has maintained her silence despite the media excitement and frenzy that she was leading it.
Dr Mujuru was fired from Government and zanu-pf together with her cabal after she was implicated in a plot to assassinate President Mugabe.
Over the past year, Dr Mujuru has just issued statements which appeared to be a manifesto, but it was not clear in what capacity were they made, whether as a political party or as a disgruntled pressure group.
The private media reported the statements as if they were coming from a political party yet it is a fact no such political party has been launched, neither has it been introduced to the electorate.
What has exposed the relationship between the outfit and the private media has been the failure of the outfit to engage all the media in the country in reaching out to Zimbabweans.
It has also been fascinating to note that expelled former zanu-pf secretary for information and publicity, Mr Rugare Gumbo has been speaking on behalf of the outfit even on family issues related to Dr Mujuru, which ordinarily, he would not be qualified to do.
On the other hand, Dr Mujuru has remained quiet, a situation that has created uncertainty and disgruntlement among people who had initially identified themselves with her like Mr Temba Mliswa after he was deposed as both zanu-pf Mashonaland West chairperson and Hurungwe West legislator.
Mr Mliswa grew impatient with Dr Mujuru’s silence, resulting in him abandoning ship, a gesture that could be seen as an indictment of most people who might have been positioning themselves to join the outfit.
The popularity of Dr Mujuru has just been played out in the private media with nothing to show on the ground by way of convening rallies or any other such political activities.
A foreigner visiting Zimbabwe for the first time would be forgiven for thinking that the political outfit was a fully fledged political party with known structures and supporters throughout the country.
The foreigner would not believe that the support for People First, if at all is there, is yet to be tested and gauged given the obsession that the private media has had on it as they have gone on a stampede to exalt it.
The People First project has been receiving coverage bordering on bootlicking from publications like the Daily News and NewsDay although they have not told their readers what the outfit stands for to deserve such positive coverage.
In some instances, one of the dailies has on successive days unashamedly led with a story on People First from a single interview done with one official repeating what it had published in its previous instalments but packaged differently.
This clearly shows the obsession and frenzy that has gripped the private media on the project despite the fact that nothing on the ground has been registered by the political outfit.
No rally has been conducted by the outfit, the party is yet to be launched, neither has there been a congress to elect leadership yet the private media has been sent into delirium by a ghost political outfit whose launch is continuously said to be “soon.”
Since the frenzy about People First started in the media, readers have been told that the party would be launched “soon,” making people wonder at the real import of that word considering that days, weeks, months have lapsed with no sight of its birth.
The activities that we have been told have been carried out by the outfit were secret meetings with supposed structures mainly comprising fired zanu-pf and disgruntled MDC-T officials or those that were disgruntled after losing primary elections and desperate for political homes.
Is it the presence of a war veteran in the form of Dr Mujuru, if it is so, is it enough to give such attention given that zanu-pf boasts of several such people and nationalists, not to mention the achievements made by the revolutionary party?
Questions that an observer is tempted to ask are whether there has not been a gentlemen’s agreement between the handlers of such publications and those behind the project to give the positive coverage, probably in return for adverts?
This is so given the fact that some of the private media are struggling to have advertisements on their pages and will go to every length to secure a willing advertiser.
One hopes that one day the private media will wake up from its deep slumber and realise that the People First is just a movement of people seeking political homes.