OPPOSITION parties have warned former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First (PF) movement to avoid the “big brother/sister mentality” in its engagements with other players or risk scuttling grand coalition initiatives already underway ahead of the 2018 elections.
The warnings came after PF interim spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo last week insinuated that Mujuru was the automatic leader of the proposed coalition movement.
Gumbo yesterday said he stood by his words and challenged other opposition parties to field their own candidates.
“Yes, as PF, our candidate is Mujuru. Those who do not want her should bring forward their own alternative. We cannot go into negotiations without our own candidate,” he said.
“At the moment, we have not registered the party, but they know we have the people. As soon as we finish building our own structures, we will facilitate more negotiations for a coalition, but our leader as PF is Amai Mujuru.”
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu cheekly asked: “What is PF, we only read about them in newspapers?”
People’s Democratic Party Harare spokesperson, Nqobizitha Khumalo said Gumbo’s remarks smacked of arrogance and were in bad taste.
“The big brother/sister mentality has no place in coalition talks. We sit at the table as equal partners and come out with a common binding position to all parties. Any reconciliation of two parties must be based on a mutual abandonment of past positions, attitudes and practices,” he said.
“It begins to remind us of that infamous statement by generals before the 2002 presidential elections who declared that ‘the Office of President… was a strait jacket and only those with liberation war credentials can fill it’.
“We wonder if that kind of thinking has rubbed off on our colleagues and is the same criteria used on Mujuru, herself a decorated liberation war hero.”
“We respect Mujuru and recognise her indelible record in the struggle to free this country, which Zanu PF now wants to rubbish.”
Khumalo said: “We welcome her in the camp of those who have seen the light and are determined to join hands with all who wish to see change in the fortunes of this country. It will be a sad scenario if her good name is soiled by one misguided and overzealous individual, even if he happens to be her party’s official spokesperson.
Khumalo said Mujuru had her strengths, but that did not make her more special than others.
“Mujuru has her merits, but, so do the rest. Everyone has their bragging rights . . . and the utterances by Gumbo can only serve to harden attitudes and entrench positions,” he said.
“They are also very frightening. They strengthen the hand of those people in other parties who have doubts about the coalition.
MDC spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi said: “The MDC cannot comment or follow the dreams and wishes of Gumbo, a Vashandi Group spokesperson. She (Mujuru) will be a natural leader in her party because we are not intending to work with her. We can only work with like-minded forces, who share similar values and principles with us. (MDC president Welshman) Ncube did not meet Mujuru and has no intention to meet those people. The MDC remains committed to an inclusive political project with other pro-democracy forces. We cannot share and compare notes with such loose groups that share the same values and principles with Zanu PF.”