By Jermaine Ndlovu
Bulawayo, April 07, 2016 – THE newly launched Zimbabwe People’s First (ZimPF) party led by Joice Mujuru has set in motion what looks like an ambitious bid to charm Bulawayo, a city that has stubbornly stuck to the country’s opposition at the expense of Zanu PF.
The ousted Vice President leads a group of former Zanu PF politicians who were dislodged from the party for allegedly conniving to dethrone President Robert Mugabe.
Some former Zanu PF politicians who are now prominent ZimPF members are Didymus Mutasa, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Bright Matonga and Kudzai Mbudzi.
However, the new party has started making forays into a territory dominated by the two MDC formations hoping their Zanu PF badge would have faded out of the minds of city residents.
To some, it has been difficult to detach them from the old Zanu PF as they are a group of individuals who were thrown out of the ruling elite when they still enjoyed the ride on the gravy train.
People in Matabeleland attribute all their misfortunes to Zanu PF which has shunned the region in terms of development.
Addressing the Bulawayo Press Club weeks ago, retired army Colonel Kudzai Mbudzi, tried to find the right tone to enter the hearts of people in the region through vows his party will not sweep the 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities under the carpet if it went on to form the next government.
“Mai Mujuru assured us that she will confront the Gukurahundi issue rather than sweep it under the carpet as the post congress Zanu PF has done over the years.
“The issue should be brought to its logical conclusion rather than the current tactics by Mugabe,” said Mbudzi.
The atrocities, which were presided over by the then Prime Minister Mugabe, claimed an estimated 20 000 civilians.
Zanu PF’s failure to atone for the atrocities in the past 30 years has led to its continued rejection by Bulawayo and its predominantly Ndebele neighbourhood.
Mujuru’s fledgling party has since held meetings with Bulawayo youths and a few more rallies in areas such Victoria Falls.
Party national committee chair for Information and publicity Methuseli Moyo was adamant ZPF was able to penetrate the region.
“We have already penetrated Bulawayo by holding a number of well attended meetings and rallies,” he said.
“From the gatherings we have hosted, we have received great response and we have not received any resistance from any political opponent.
“ZimPF is here to stay and to build. We are going to meet with the ordinary people in the country, from ward level up to the national level.”
Dumisani Nkomo, a political activist and Habakkuk Trust Chief Executive Officer, said people should not be desperate for change by giving into ZimPF.
“These people have been there for long and the nation must not be desperate for change and give in easily; it is important to subject Mujuru to public scrutiny before people rush out mass political baptism and christen her as the country’s saviour at the altar of expediency.
“Remember that all her party mainly consists of former Zanu PF stalwarts who have been part of the ruling party for the past 36 years, the culture and their values seem to be the same; these are the people who for years benefited from the corrupt system.”
On the other hand, Nkomo said, the entry of another strong opposition was good for democracy.
“They have managed to charm a lot and they stand a good chance of making it though I still maintain the notion that a grand coalition amongst the oppositions will defeat the Zanu PF regime.”
Another political analyst Gifford Sibanda however said times have changed and the ways to conduct politics have also changed.
“Politics is not stagnant and African politics changes with time; the fact that Mujuru and company are out of Zanu PF means that they are ready to serve and have a changed ideology.
“I strongly believe they are different from Zanu PF. I have also seen their members who have never been part of Zanu PF such as Methuseli Moyo and we should not forget about the ordinary member.
“They have a greater chance of posing an upset to MDC who for the past years made Bulawayo its territory.”
Sibanda says ZimPF has the support of veterans of the liberation struggle which its MDC competitors do not have.
“Looking at MDC, it’s now weaker because of the never ending factional fights; they continue to lose numbers and with politics, you become stronger with numbers,” said Sibanda.