(Last Updated on February 20, 2016 by Editor)
ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s opposition parties have cautiously embraced the registration of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) led by former vice president Joice Mujuru, as a fully-fledged political party.
The registration brings to an end months of speculation over Mujuru’s political ambitions after she was kicked out of ZANU-PF in December 2014.
ZPF’s entry onto the political landscape means that voters would be spoilt for choice, come the high-stakes 2018 general elections.
The ruling ZANU-PF party, the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the splinter MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube, the People’s Democratic Party led by Tendai Biti, ZAPU led by Dumiso Dabengwa and the Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe led by Elton Mangoma, as well as a host of other shadowy parties will be contesting the ballot in 2018.
Given the proliferation of opposition parties ahead of the next general elections, the interest is on what new course of action will ZPF offer.
Although it is still early days to determine that, in its favour is its potential threat to both the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition parties at large.
Never seen before public ructions are presently rocking ZANU-PF, which has made the revolutionary party appear a pale shadow of its former self in the eyes of the public, as the scramble to succeed President Robert Mugabe intensifies.
The opposition parties, meanwhile, face their own cocktail of challenges, which include infighting and loss of confidence from supporters who are increasingly becoming restless over the slow pace of achieving some political change.
Opposition parties canvassed this week by the Financial Gazette expressed mixed feelings over the entry of the Mujuru-led party into the already congested political space.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu, said his party was on the side of those willing and able to collaborate with any opposition political party, as long as their main goal was to establish a democratic and peace-loving Zimbabwe that respected and upheld the rule of law.
“We welcome the coming on board of Mujuru and her ZPF party. We sincerely hope and trust that the former ZANU-PF politicians have genuinely repented from their past misdeeds and that they are now ready to work with other existing opposition political parties in dislodging ZANU-PF dictatorship,” said Gutu.
PDP’s Jacob Mafume welcomed Mujuru into the ranks of the opposition because the country needed more people to rescue it from the abyss it is in.
ZPF was officially registered last week with the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) and its motto is: “Tiri vavaki veZimbabwe”, which when loosely translated means: “We are builders of Zimbabwe.”
The smaller MDC formation’s spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi said Mujuru’s entry was of no effect and it would not waste its time in engagements with her.
“It’s business as usual in the MDC, only that we have increased and improved on the way we do business… The MDC is not and has never been desperate for partners. Their (ZPF) entry means the creation of another ZANU-PF to mislead the voters. They are too weak to pull the country to the safe zone. This is old wine in a new bottle,” said Chihwayi.
Misgivings around ZPF by some of the opposition parties revolve around its perceived involvement in entrenching President Mugabe’s stay in power for nearly four decades. In that time, Mujuru served as a senior member of government and in party. Former ruling party members such as Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo, Jabulani Sibanda among many others are also widely viewed as having been among the people who propped up the veteran leader’s stay in power.
RDZ president, Elton Mangoma, said the people in ZPF had destroyed families and people’s livelihoods and could not be allowed to go scot-free.
“Our position on ZPF is that they have the same DNA with ZANU- PF and therefore, would not be different or create a different pathway to the down-trodden Zimbabweans. They have excess baggage in the form of corruption, violence, intimidation and everything bad about ZANU-PF. The leaders themselves carry some of the worst excesses and they do not care about the people, but themselves,” said Mangoma, adding: “They have no vision for Zimbabwe and they are the active architects who got us into this sorry state. There is nothing to celebrate as they are cannibalising democratic forces and having very little traction from senior members of ZANU-PF except those who were expelled.”
ZPF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, said their party remained a home-grown, inclusive party that would promote the wishes and aspirations of all Zimbabweans.