Disaffected Zanu PF stalwarts, who have defiantly broken ranks with President Robert Mugabe to coalesce under the banner and principles of the “original Zanu PF”, and who now operate as Zanu People First, say the hero-worshipping of politicians such as the nonagenarian needs to end if Zimbabwe is ever to come right.
Documents of the new Zanu PF formation that are in the possession of the Daily News say “the original Zanu PF” will break away from the post-December 2014 Zanu PF which it alleges has a negative culture of hero-worshipping its leaders.
Zanu PF “People First”, which is fronted by disgruntled party stalwarts — that include liberation struggle pioneers, war veterans and security sector bigwigs —
adds that it will not worship anyone, as is currently happening with Mugabe, who has been elevated to the level of an infallible demi-god by obsequious acolytes and lickspittle State media.
The documents, which will form part of the founding principles and values of this “original Zanu PF”, show that the party will go to the extent of putting a clause in its constitution barring “hero worshipping, inflammatory slogans and idolatry”.
Also in the documents, former Presidential Affairs minister, Didymus Mutasa, who defiantly still signs off as the legitimate Zanu PF secretary for administration, says although they were complicit in the entrenchment of the party’s fawning culture, it was time to depart from the practice which has caused “untold suffering and abuse of power”.
“There are some philosophical matters that may or may not be included in our constitution yet. They are worth mentioning here right from the beginning. Needless to say, most of them stem from our own past mistakes that we commit not to repeat,” the document reads.
Many senior officials in the warring Zanu PF have, in the past, heaped embarrassing praises on Mugabe, at times blasphemously referring to him as Jesus.
“We say No to people-worship or idolatry’. Notwithstanding our non-negotiable ‘independence’ we declare our total dependence on God. He is the only one we shall praise and worship, and not any individual,” Mutasa says in the documents.
Zanu PF People First also says it will never use some of the crude and “death-threatening” slogans synonymous with Zanu (PF), and that are targeted at Zimbabweans opposed to Mugabe.
“We say No to sloganeering that has destructive connotations like pasi nanhingi (down with so and so). We are pro-life and therefore our slogans should promote life, unity, respect development and nationhood,” it says.
Fawning slogans exalting Mugabe and his controversial wife Grace reached a crescendo last year, before and after the party’s controversial congress, with some over-excited bigwigs even sickeningly referring to the 91-year-old as “our god”.
In addition, Mugabe and Grace’s faces have been part of the ruling party regalia for years, and lately they have also been emblazoned on cars and buses — as their supporters have battled to outdo each other in a desperate endeavour to show who is more loyal to the First Family.
“We say No to putting people’s faces on our party regalia. We propose regalia that reflects the Zimbabwean identity as party members will collectively decide as they did with the national anthem and the current constitution through Copac,” Mutasa said.
Since the set up of Zanu PF “People First”, the ruling party has now officially split into two distinct and bitterly-opposed formations.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News at the weekend that former vice president Joice Mujuru was set to lead this “original Zanu PF” which would use the slogan “People First” to “distinguish itself clearly from mafikizolos (Zanu PF Johnny-come-latelies) and weevils (supporters of Grace and VP Emmerson Mnangagwa)” as the ruling party implodes.
Retired, but hugely respected party elder, Cephas Msipa, was among the first prominent party members to warn of an imminent split of the party, going on to criticise Mugabe openly late last year for failing to deal with Zanu PF’s deadly infighting and refusing to take advice on the party’s escalating factionalism.
Msipa also bluntly warned Mugabe then that his failure to unmask and stop the party’s real factionalists would result in the party splitting into several opposing camps, further attacking the party faction aligned to Mnangagwa for behaving as if it “owned” the divisive Grace — a development that he said was fuelling factionalism inside the party.
Analysts said the country’s political stage was now delicately poised between the two bitterly-opposed Zanu PF formations, as well as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC, ahead of the crucial 2018 national elections.
“They (Grace and Zanu PF hardliners) appear to have finally got what they always seemed to want, a split — and it’s now game on between Zanu PF Mugabe and Zanu PF Mujuru.
“Every one’s hope will be that this does not degenerate into more abductions and violence as Zanu PF hardliners have never been known to take determined opposition well,” analyst Shepherd Mntungwa said.
Investigations by the Daily News showed that the disaffected Zanu PF stalwarts had been meeting regularly with many prominent Zimbabweans for some time now, to plan “the operationalisation” of Zanu People First, in a bid “to reclaim the original Zanu PF”, which they alleged had been hijacked by power-hungry mafikizolos.
Sources said many expelled and serving Zanu PF ministers, Members of Parliament, Youth and Women’s league officials who had been victims of the party’s harassment and brutal purges of the past few months, which had been fronted by Grace, supported the idea of Zanu People First and were pushing Mujuru to lead the party.
Notable persons who have been chucked out from the post-congress Zanu PF include Mujuru, Mutasa, former party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda and former Mashonaland West provincial chairman, Temba Mliswa.
Margaret Dongo, who left Zanu PF in the 1990s to stand as an independent candidate appeared to warm up to the idea of a new party on Monday.
“A Zanu PF returning to the ideals of the liberation struggle is long overdue. It will attract war veterans, nationalists and all those who were wrongly expelled from the party. The generation that waged the liberation war is still there and should lead the party not these mafikizolos.
“Fortunately, these guys have seen the light and there are a lot of war veterans who have been looking for shelter,” Dongo said.
And despite the public bravado after expelling Mujuru and her allies, it is widely known that the People First movement has rattled the ruling party, amid fears that party hardliners may resort to extreme violence to thwart their opponents.
But Mutasa and team are not deterred.
“We should all converge to save our country from the corrupt and selfish leadership of the illegal 2014 Zanu PF. We will accept as members all Zimbabweans from all walks of life who are determined to work for a new Zimbabwe.
“We envisage a Zimbabwe where every member of society matters. Hence we shall require that in all considerations people must come first. Hence our slogan People First,” he said