OPPOSITION parties yesterday embraced the launch of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party, saying this will rejuvenate opposition politics and bolster the planned grand coalition to challenge Zanu PF in the 2018 elections.
Speaking to NewsDay in separate interviews yesterday following Mujuru’s inaugural media address on Tuesday, the parties said they viewed her as a key partner rather than an adversary.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said his party was ready for a coalition of all opposition parties, including ZimPF.
“We are willing and able to work and collaborate with any opposition political party that shares the same vision, values and ethos with us,” he said.
“In this respect, therefore, we don’t perceive Mujuru and her new party as our political adversary.”
In a case of giving mixed messages, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was a fortnight ago quoted as suggesting that his party would not work with Mujuru because it would be akin to “co-operating with Zanu PF through the back door”.
The Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said Mujuru was bringing with her valuable inside information gained from her long stay in Zanu PF, which would help opposition parties scuttle some of the ruling party’s “election-rigging mechanisms”.
“Zanu PF, which has been secure for years, is now cracking. Whichever way you look at it, Mujuru leaving Zanu PF and surviving to tell the story as well as forming a party is a big crack,” PDP spokesperson, Jacob Mafume said.
“It gives the nation hope that when we say everything comes to an end, it is not a slogan, but a living reality.”
Earlier on, Biti had said the opposition movement’s failure to win the previous elections was due to lack of the “liberation component”.
Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa said Mujuru was a vital component in the fight to dislodge Zanu PF.
“We have held informal discussions before and now that they have formalised their party, we will wait for them to come forward with specific positions,” he said.
“The fact that they are coming from the ruling party means they have things that will help a lot in tackling particular issues. They will provide an important component to opposition politics.”
MDC leader Welshman Ncube also welcomed Mujuru, adding the country “cannot afford a day longer with Zanu PF in power”.
“There is misery all over and the integrity of the country is in great danger,” he said.
“We cannot afford a single day longer of Zanu PF rule, hence, everyone with a view to remove the current government should not be left out.
“We can argue about ideologies and who is closer to whom later in a democratic Zimbabwe. At the moment, we are not in a democratic country and cannot afford to exclude anyone unless they really want to be excluded.”
Mujuru, in her Press briefing in Harare, said she was also ready for a coalition with opposition parties of the same mind.
“We will cross the bridge when we come to it. But we are willing to work with like-minded organisations,” she said.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, however, scoffed at suggestions that Mujuru’s decision to join opposition politics would shake up the ruling party.
“We are preoccupied with the implementation of our policies as well as challenges affecting some of our people, including the drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon,” he said.
“I am the Zanu PF spokesperson and do not speak on behalf of any other party.”
Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo also fired potshots at Mujuru, describing her as an appendage of the West.
“It was her first outing on an alleged People First project at a five-star colonial hotel with a bar named Explorers,” he wrote on micro-blogging site, Twitter.
Meanwhile, the acting leader of the House in the National Assembly, Patrick Chinamasa, told Parliament that the formation of Mujuru’s ZimFirst would instead destroy MDC-T rather than Zanu PF.
Chinamasa had been quizzed by Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) to explain why war veterans were recently treated like dirt and tear-gassed.
He also asked whether the ill-treatment of war vets at the hands of the police could possibly have led to the formation of Mujuru’s party.
“The issue that Chamisa raised was addressed by the President, and he correctly apologised to war veterans for what happened, and he said it is regrettable, and I hope in future incidents of that nature will not occur,” Chinamasa said.
“I think Chamisa should begin to write an obituary of his party because the Zim People First members, who were assembled, were disgruntled former members of the MDC-T.
“What we saw yesterday (Tuesday) was grafting of disgruntled former Zanu PF followers, regrafted into MDC-T followers, and grafted into Zim People First.”
Political analyst Alex Magaisa cautioned that Mujuru had an unenviable task to cleanse herself of the Zanu PF tag.
“There is one thing that our politicians have to learn, it is that sorry is not a word that causes disadvantage at all times. It is acknowledging mistakes and wrongdoing,” he wrote on his website.
“Apologising for them is not only desirable and a very humane trait. (It is) one that has the potential (to) endear a candidate to ordinary people. This is a golden opportunity for Mujuru, not only to acknowledge sceptics as she did, but also addressing the source of scepticism.”