ZIMBABWE – Joice Mujuru, who was a popular vice-president and a natural successor to Robert Mugabe until she was sacked two years ago, has taken the first step to form a new political party, People First.
She issued a statement on Saturday saying she registered her party with the Zimbabwe Election Commission and that she was its interim president.
Many Zanu-PF cabinet ministers and provincial leaders were sacked from Mugabe’s Zanu-PF after Mujuru was expelled from the party she joined as a girl.
The state weekly, The Sunday Mail, at the weekend described People First as a “cabal”.
Before the 2014 Zanu-PF congress, Mujuru was hunted down and denounced across the country by first lady Grace Mugabe, assisted then by Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had longed, for years, to be lined up as vice-president to follow Mugabe.
Mujuru was accused of witchcraft and of plotting to kill Mugabe, and was given no chance to defend herself before the Zanu-PF constitution was hurriedly changed to eliminate the clause about the need for a woman vice-president.
So Mnangagwa got the number two spot in the Zanu-PF hierarchy – a post he believed he should have had years previously – and she was expelled into the political wilderness.
Now Grace Mugabe is after vice-president Mnangagwa, and without naming him, accuses him of trying to kill her family.
Some of Grace Mugabe’s supporters say they want the clause that one vice-president must be a woman restored to the Zanu-PF constitution.
Many say that this would then allow Grace Mugabe to become vice-president.
Mujuru told weekly paper, The Standard, she had “no advice” for Mnanagagwa, now that Grace Mugabe had turned on him.
“They were together when lies were peddled against me and many in the party, so he is just having the same treatment that I got, and they are tasting their own medicine.
“They knew all that was being said about me were lies, but they believed it; that is when I realised that a huge disaster was imminent in Zanu-PF, because the leadership allowed it (my persecution) to happen.
“I decided to keep quiet and watch the party disintegrate,” she said.
The name of Mujuru’s party, People First, is in itself something of a critique of the political party she represented all her adult life.
The letters, PF, after Zanu, emerged during the end of the liberation war, and were for Patriotic Front during Mugabe’s alliance with Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu as their forces united to fight the Rhodesian army.