Former vice-president Joice Mujuru and her allies in and outside Zanu (PF) have seriously begun a process of organising a new political platform to challenge Zanu PF in the 2018 general elections.
This could pit Mujuru in a head-on clash with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is likely to be the Zanu PF candidate in the 2018 polls.
President Robert Mugabe, who is 91 years old, is unlikely to be the Zanu (PF) presidential candidate in 2018 given his visible frailty and growing incoherence due to old age and health complications.
Following her expulsion from Zanu PF last week, Mujuru and her allies have intensified behind-the-scenes meetings in a bid to form a new political party whose name is yet to be finally decided even if former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa hinted that it could be called Zanu PF (People First).
The name has already stirred controversy and could attract litigation from Zanu (PF). Potential allies like Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa have already rejected the name because of its association to Mugabe’s Zanu PF.
Sources say Mujuru is working towards forming her own party which would be based on nearly half of Zanu PF and could form strategic alliances with the MDC formations and opposition figures like Zapu boss Dabengwa and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni.
Her allies are closing ranks to fight Mugabe and Zanu PF from outside using existing party structures built over the years Mujuru was vice-president.
Information at hand shows that senior party officials are meeting regularly on Tuesdays with expelled Mutasa, former Zanu PF national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and ex-Hurungwe West MP Temba Mliswa to map the way forward.
“They (Mujuru group) usually meets weekly at a house in Mount Pleasant. Try to call them on Tuesdays, you won’t reach them because they will be busy with meetings,” said the source. “Something serious is being planned.”
Mutasa also said they were going to give Zanu PF a tough time because if the congress had been held procedurally, Mujuru would still be vice-president as she is hugely popular.
“We are certain that if congress was held procedurally, Mujuru would have been democratically elected into the same position (vice-presidency). And with the passage of time, she would be the first democratically elected female president of Zimbabwe,” Mutasa said.
Mliswa said the group has been laying groundwork for a new fight and enjoys a large support base.
“We have been in touch with all chairpersons and the structures at grassroots level. Mujuru has formidable support and there is no need to activate new structures,” Mliswa said.
“Those people who are attending Zanu PF meetings belong to Mujuru; let us wait for the appropriate time, then you will see for yourself. Those enjoying power right now are living on borrowed time and soon they will realise it is the people who decide who should lead them eventually.”
However, Zanu PF sources say Mujuru has been the weakest link in the group as she has not come out in the open to declare her future intentions.
“While her foot soldiers are fighting tooth and nail, Mujuru has not been courageous enough to state her position. She needs to show that she is ready to fight,” said the source.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Mujuru said she will take up any challenge if called upon to do so by the people.
“Whatever people choose for me, I will do. I will not impose myself,” she said.
She dismissed allegations used as a pretext to expel her by the Zanu PF’s national disciplinary committee last week.
In a report presented to the politburo by the Zanu PF national disciplinary committee chairperson Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, Mujuru, together with her late husband — the late retired general Solomon Mujuru — stand accused of plotting to violently remove Mugabe from power through unorthodox means, dating back to the time Mujuru was appointed vice-president.
The report also states that Mujuru was at the forefront of creating a competing centre of power and was systematically usurping Mugabe’s power by trying to convene cabinet meetings and politburo meetings in his absence.
“No one can call cabinet or politburo except the president,” Mujuru said, adding: “I was acting president many times and the powers that an acting president does not have include declaring war, hanging a criminal and call a cabinet meeting. A cabinet meeting is called by the president through the chief secretary and a politburo meeting is done through the secretary for administration.”
She also challenged Zanu (PF) to prove that they were not involved in the death of her husband whom they also accused of plotting to overthrow Mugabe.
Solomon Mujuru died in a mysterious inferno in 2011 when his body was burnt beyond recognition in what many suspect was part of Mugabe’s cutthroat succession battles.