Thursday, February 18, 2016

Former ZANU-PF Official Joice Mujuru Forms Opposition Political Party
FEBRUARY 17 2016, 16:55

ZIMBABWEAN former vice-president Joice Mujuru announced on Wednesday that she was forming a new party to challenge President Robert Mugabe’s all-powerful Zanu (PF), in a move that could shake up the country’s politics.

Mr Mugabe, who turns 92 on Sunday, has ruled since independence in 1980 during an era marked by vote-rigging, mass emigration, accusations of human rights abuses and economic decline.

He is expected to stand again for election in 2018, but jockeying over his succession has intensified due to his advanced age and speculation about his health.

"We are ‘People First’," Ms Mujuru said, confirming the name of her new party but giving no further details. "We don’t lead the people, but people lead themselves."

Ms Mujuru, the widow of Zimbabwe’s first post-independence army general, was fired from the government and the ruling Zanu (PF) party in December 2014.

Her ousting came after a campaign by Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace denigrating Ms Mujuru and accusing her of corruption, fomenting party division and plotting to topple Mr Mugabe.

Many of her allies and perceived sympathisers met a similar fate in a party purge.

Ms Mujuru, who was replaced as vice-president by long-time Mugabe ally Emmerson Mnangagwa, denied all accusations of disloyalty.

She was a guerrilla fighter during Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation war before rising to become deputy leader in 2004.

A former Zanu (PF) stalwart, she earlier served in several cabinet posts under Mr Mugabe and was seen for many years as his favoured choice of successor.

Her husband, Solomon Mujuru, died in a mysterious house fire in 2011.

Ms Mujuru signalled her intention to form a political party last year by releasing a manifesto that opposed Mr Mugabe’s key policies, including indigenisation laws that compel foreign firms to cede majority stakes to locals.

Zanu (PF) has been riven by factional fights over Mr Mugabe’s succession although party figures have sought to downplay any splits.

Mr Mnangagwa is now viewed as the likely next president, with Grace Mugabe also a possible candidate.

The president attended an African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia at the end of last month, giving a long speech as he stepped down from his year as AU chair.

The event was his first major public appearance since rumours flared that he had collapsed and died in Asia during his annual holiday in January.

A Zimbabwe court last week jailed an opposition activist for nine years for possessing home-made petrol bombs in a supposed plot to attack a dairy run by Ms Mugabe.


Does Zimbabwe have a heavyweight opposition again?

17 FEB 2016 11:46 (SOUTH AFRICA)

It’s been coming for a long time, but finally it’s official: Joice Mujuru will form a new party. The former vice-president is promising that her Zimbabwe People First will offer a serious challenge to Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF in the next election. Is she right? By SIMON ALLISON.

It wasn’t so long ago - December 2014 - that Joice Mujuru was First Vice-President of Zimbabwe. As a stalwart of the ruling party, and leader of an influential faction, she was close to President Robert Mugabe, and a favourite to succeed him.

Then it all fell apart. With Mugabe wary of her growing support base, Mujuru was slowly forced out, with Mugabe’s wife Grace leading the attack. Accused of everything from plotting regime change to colluding with the enemy, she was removed from office and expelled from the party. After decades in the front lines, Mujuru suddenly found herself consigned to the wilderness.

Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) is her attempt to escape that wilderness. The new party, which was officially announced on Wednesday, will compete in the 2018 elections. “We are People First. We don't lead the people, but people lead themselves,” Mujuru told AFP.

The party’s name is probably less important than its acronym. ZPF consciously echoes Zanu-PF, the acronym of the ruling party. This sends a clear message that -unlike other opposition parties - this is a political movement with its roots in Zanu-PF, one that can and will lay claim to the ruling party’s struggle credentials and governance record.

In a telephone interview, senior party official Didymus Mutasa - a former cabinet minister who was kicked out of Zanu-PF at the same time as Mujuru - told the Daily Maverick that ZPF is a force to be reckoned with.

“I think it is going to be a very serious political force. Mujuru will attract almost every person from different walks of Zimbabwean life. She has been a vice-president of this country for ten good years. She has done nothing wrong in the eyes of many people. I know people in the defence forces, people in the police, people in the Central Intelligence Office who will be very willing to see her leading Zimbabwe,” said Mutasa.

While it is true that Mujuru was a very popular vice-president, it’s unclear whether this can translate into electoral success. Long time Zimbabwe-watchers recall the example of Simba Makoni, another Zanu-PF stalwart who started his own party to challenge Mugabe. But although Makoni received plenty of attention, he bombed at the polls in 2008, receiving just 8.3 percent of the vote.

“There’s anecdotal evidence to suggest that there are a number of people within state and party structures which are sympathetic to Mujuru, but no one really knows,” said Piers Pigou, southern Africa director for International Crisis Group. “The big question is whether the new party is going to really engage on the electoral playing field, in a context where adequate electoral reforms have not been made. Do you play the game in which Zanu-PF holds all the cards?”

Zimbabwe could use an effective opposition. The Movement for Democratic Change, which has come closest to unseating Zanu-PF - most observers argue that they should have won the election in 2008 - is a shadow of its former self, riven by faction-fighting and personal scandals. It is still far too early to tell whether the ZPF will be able to assume the MDC’s mantle, or even whether traditional opposition supporters will trust Mujuru, given her Zanu-PF history.

Meanwhile, the infighting within Zanu-PF has been intensifying. On Friday, President Mugabe’s wife Grace launched a blistering verbal attack on current Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who leads a major party faction known as Team Lacoste. Grace Mugabe is the de facto leader of the other major faction, known as G40, and both are thought to be jostling to succeed President Mugabe, who isn’t getting any younger.

Although Grace Mugabe didn’t reference Mnangagwa by name, the target of her remarks, at a rally in Mashonaland Central, was unmistakeable: “Those who say Mugabe is old and therefore must relinquish power are not young themselves…Some people have overstayed their welcome. We will expose these plotters at the next rally, watch this space,” she said.

Pigou argues that these political dramas only serve to mask Zimbabwe’s real problems. “The circus going on while country is bleeding,” he said. He’s got a point. The country’s economy is teetering, but the tit-for-tat between senior leadership is jeopardising ambitious plans to repay debt and open new lines of credit. The El Nino-inspired drought has hit farmers hard, with the country staring at 15-18 months of severe food insecurity. And record-low water levels in Kariba Dam mean that some neighbourhoods are going without electricity for up to 20 hours a day.

It’s a bleak picture. And even with the best of intentions, Mujuru’s new party is unlikely to improve the situation anytime soon. DM

‘Zanu PF split imminent’

HERALD columnist, Nathaniel Manheru, strongly believed to be President Robert Mugabe’s aide, George Charamba, has warned of a looming Zanu PF split, if the shadowy Generation 40 (G40) faction is left unchecked.


“The idea is to have successive breakaways that would leave Zanu PF anaemic and softened for defeat. Expect more exfoliation,” Manheru wrote in his weekly column published on Saturday.

The ruling party is currently engaged in nasty internecine factional fights centred on Mugabe’s succession.

In his article, Manheru rechristened the G40 as G-Wikileaks, saying members of the group, like ousted Vice-President Joice Mujuru, would soon meet their end because of their alleged links with the US.

“The splintered MDC-T is being slowly re-soldered by the Americans, with the strategy being to exaggerate intra-oppositional differences in the hope of engineering a surprise for Zanu PF, but unlike in 2008, the two shards out for Zanu PF, then playing out as Mavambo and then Zapu, will have to happen now in order to reunite before 2018,” he wrote.

“Mujuru’s PF is now in place, virtually. A Zapu-like follow-up tear-away will soon pass in the form of G-Wikileaks, not G40, as the group prefers to call itself.”

Manheru said the fall of Mujuru was mainly because of the unforgiven sins of consorting with Americans, which was exposed following the leaking of diplomatic cables between US and Zimbabwe by Wikileaks, a whistle-blowing organisation.

The shadowy columnist, also accused the opposition MDC-T of fueling the recent demolition of houses along Airport Road in Harare, a move he said was aimed at tarnishing the Zanu PF government’s image.

“The urban housing demolitions are in full swing albeit under an MDC-T council. When this is couched as a human rights story, it is the Zanu PF government, not MDC-T council, which gets convicted. Even the cholera story is back with a resonance familiar to the 2008 scenario,” Manheru wrote.

But, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu yesterday dismissed the claims as “a pack of lies” and reminded Charamba that the demolitions were ordered by his principal.

Mujuru Turns Down Zanu PF

Feb 8, 2016
By Bridget Mananavire

HARARE – Amid stunning revelations that the Zanu PF faction behind President Robert Mugabe’s embattled deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is reaching out to former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her followers, the widow of the late liberation struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru, says the idea is “a non-starter”.

Addressing the leadership of her movement, People First, from Matabeleland South province last week, Mujuru vowed that she would never go back to Zanu PF, insisting that “that chapter of my life that had something to do with Zanu PF is a closed one”.

“I know you have heard some people saying she will go back to Zanu PF. Get it from me, kuZanu PF hakudzokwi. Hakuna chiriko (There is no chance of me going back to Zanu PF. There is nothing there)”, she told her lively audience.

Mujuru said when Mugabe was hurling insults and “all manner of accusations” at her, she had kept quiet because she was convinced that she had heard God’s voice telling her to let it be and move on with her life.

Drawing lessons from the biblical Lot who was commanded by God to move out of Sodom and never turn back, lest he would turn into a heap of salt, Mujuru said it was clear to her the message from God was to move out of Zanu PF and never go back to the warring party.

“God used him (Mugabe) and his wife (Grace) to communicate with me that the time to be with the people had come. If his subordinates or someone junior had communicated that message, I probably wouldn’t have heard it the way I did.

“Like Lot, I was told to get out of the party and never look back.

“That is the reason I never answered back to the insults. I know a lot of you really got angry about all that abuse.

“I was thrust on a tree-top and undressed in front of the whole nation, in front of my children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, friends and in-laws. It was embarrassing, but in all this, I could hear God’s voice”, Mujuru said with conviction.

She added that it was “revealing” that Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars had exploded after she was hounded out of the party.

“Some people have been telling me that I was the glue that was holding Zanu PF together because the moment I was sacked, the party imploded.

“The fact that the party imploded shows clearly that I was never the problem. Those that were accusing me of all sorts of things are the problem and as long as they are there, Zanu PF will continue to disintegrate”, Mujuru said with a chuckle and seeming relief.

She said she always knew that it would be a matter of time before Zanu PF’s implosion became “visible to all Zimbabweans” as the cracks within the party had become so wide that they could no longer be papered over — one of the reasons why she and her colleagues in People First had taken their time to launch the party.

“We wanted Zimbabweans to see for themselves what was happening. We said why rush (to form a party)? Now we are hearing there is Team Lacoste and G40. Yet all along they were saying we were the problem.

“Now it’s clear to all and sundry that we were never the problem and that this is the best time for us to form our party. People are now clear about who is the problem,” Mujuru said.

“And here is the remarkable thing, it feels good to meet with the people without bodyguards. When I came back from the liberation struggle and was given a ministry, it disconnected me from the people until I was demoted to being governor of Mashonaland Central.

“That demotion reconnected me with the people and I enjoyed it. I became part of the community. I spent time with them, dressed like them and ate what they ate and when I was made minister again, I had no dress in my wardrobe that was executive. That’s how far it had gone and I thanked God for reconnecting me with the people,” she said.

Mujuru added that she was once again in a similar situation and she was enjoying every bit of it.

“God said it’s good to be vice president, but now go back to the people without bodyguards, be part of the people. This is God’s decision and I said I was not going to question it. That’s why I didn’t get angry with him (Mugabe).

“I knew God was ordering me to be with the people and all I could do was oblige,” she said revealing that the meetings she was currently having with people had both energised and emboldened her to work for the betterment of all Zimbabweans.

The Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News, reported authoritatively last week that with the Zanu PF faction behind Mnangagwa feeling the heat of the ruling party’s seemingly-unstoppable factional and succession wars, the camp was now reaching out to Mujuru and her followers.

Zanu PF insiders told the country’s leading daily — which has consistently and accurately reported on the ugly goings-on in the ruling party over the past five years — that the Mnangagwa faction was feeling so “squeezed” that it was desperately trying to lure back to the ruling party, liberation struggle stalwarts who had been purged from the party on claims of working with Mujuru.

“The wheel is turning. Who would have anticipated that Team Lacoste would one day wish that Gamatox (Mujuru camp) was still within the family fold (Zanu PF). But that is precisely what is happening now as they are desperate to augment their forces,” a party bigwig said.

The Daily News was also told that among the resolutions that were made at the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA)’s meeting that was controversially held at the Presidential Guard military barracks in Harare last week was a decision to approach all war veterans who are working with other political movements such as People First — a move that was confirmed by ZNLWVA secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda.

“We resolved to follow up on war veterans who left Zanu PF to join other parties for various reasons, especially those who have gone to People First. We want to reorganise ourselves under the leadership of president Mugabe,” Matemadanda said.

While Matemadanda was reluctant to give the names of the war veterans that the pro-Mnangagwa ZNLWVA were hoping to bring back within its fold, there has been a growing belief within both camps of the Zanu PF war that Mujuru and her allies “are better devils” than their present party opponents.

All this is happening as insiders say Mugabe is in a pickle over how to handle and end the ruling party’s internal wars, pointing to his “tepid” statement when he returned from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia a fortnight ago where he handed over the chairmanship of the African Union.

Well-placed ruling party sources said Mugabe was caught “between a rock and a hard place” as both of the two main factions brawling for supremacy in the former liberation movement boasted of having some of his most trusted lieutenants within their ranks.

“I don’t envy his position at all as he is being asked to choose between a faction linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he has known for five decades, and the other which appears to enjoy the backing of Dr Amai (his wife Grace) and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.

“Clearly, therefore, Gushungo is caught between a rock and a hard place and hence his unusually tepid speech on the worsening fights in the party when he returned from Addis Ababa. I suspect that things will get worse before they get better,” a politburo member said resignedly. Daily News

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Mujuru taunts Mnangagwa

February 14, 2016

FORMER vice-president Joice Mujuru believes her successor Emmerson Mnangagwa is tasting his own medicine after First Lady Grace Mugabe turned on the Midlands strongman on Friday, accusing him of plotting against her husband.


Grace accused Mnangagwa of a plethora of things, including linking him to an alleged plot to kill her son — Chatunga — and the recent attempt “to bomb” her Gushungo Dairy in Mazowe.

She has threatened to reveal more information allegedly exposing the so-called plot against Mugabe.

The setting for the attacks against Mnangagwa — a rally in Mazowe South — and the language laced with innuendos and hate speech had a striking similarity to Grace’s unrestrained attacks on Mujuru in 2014.

Mujuru, who on Friday registered her own political party — Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) — said she does not feel any pity for Mnangagwa.

The VP is believed to have been one of the architects of Mujuru’s demise after years of jostling for control of Zanu PF with the war veteran.

“I have no advice that I would give him,” Mujuru told The Standard.

“They were together when lies were peddled against me and many in the party, so he is just having the same treatment that I got and they are tasting their own medicine.

“They knew that all that was being said about me were lies, but they believed it; that is when I realised that a huge disaster was imminent in Zanu PF because the leadership allowed it [my persecution] to happen.

“I decided to keep quiet and watch the party disintegrate.”

She added: “I don’t feel pity for him and anyone there at all! That is what they wanted.”

Mujuru said Mnangagwa was welcome to join ZPF party, but on condition that he starts from grassroots.

Mnangagwa took over from Mujuru in December 2014 after she was kicked out of the party on allegations of plotting to kill Mugabe through consulting witch-doctors, among other accusations.

She denied the allegations and challenged Mugabe to prove the claims in court. At the time, Mujuru described the charges as politicking by those who wanted power at all cost.

War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, a key Mnangagwa ally, was also singled out for a tongue lashing by a visibly angry Grace on Friday.

Zanu PF is divided into two distinct factions, with one backing Mnangagwa and another G40 which reportedly has the backing of the First Lady.

Mujuru said the chaos in Zanu PF was a sign of a failed leadership but vowed never to return to the ruling party as she was not fully committed to ZPF.

“That is what they wanted (destruction of Zanu PF) because the leadership allowed it to happen,” she said. When everything is done, the party will be launched and we will let you know,” she said.
In her parting shot, Mujuru said Mnangagwa would not qualify for a top post at ZPF.

“He will have to go to his province that is where he will be entertained not at our position (national),” she said.

Like Mnangagwa, Mujuru was at one time being tipped to succeed Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

AMHVoices: G40 is Mugabe’s Creation

February 16, 2016 in AMH Voices

IN Zanu PF like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some members are more equal than others. Besides suggestions of leading a “kitchen Cabinet”, President Robert Mugabe preaches what he does not practice and because of this, with the assistance from those bent on destroying Zanu PF from within, the President has brought the party and country to the current situation.

By Gutu,Our Reader

The party and country are on shaky ground because Mugabe has failed to take charge of the situation by allowing an emotional, inexperienced and politically clueless First Lady Grace Mugabe to run things, as confirmed last week at a rally in Chiweshe.

Such lack of cohesion and unity does not bring the much-needed investors; if anything, it chases them away.This year’s first politburo meeting resolved that attacking members of the party publicly in any fora is prohibited.

Before the ink on the resolutions had dried, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo was back on twitter telling his followers what transpired in the meeting. The next morning Sarah Mahoka, Saviour Kasukuwere, Moyo and Dickson Mafios led by Grace were in overdrive publicly denouncing and denigrating War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa at a rally in Chiweshe. This was done without following due process.

The violations of the party’s resolutions are taking place because the group, G40, is claiming to have the blessings of Mugabe. Shame on you, Gushungo, if that is the case, talking about African unity when at home you are causing such disharmony. Gushungo, if you are not the one speaking through your wife and the entire G40, call them to order before they cause irreparable damage to the party.

Better still, appoint a new chair and disciplinary committee to try these wayward members including your wife. At the moment I believe the marriage with the greater membership of the party can be salvaged, as chances of reconciliation still exist.

There should be no second round of the useless non-productive meet-the-people rallies by Grace before an urgent extraordinary politburo or central committee meeting for parties to agree to work together or amicably part ways. What these rallies only achieve like during the time of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru is to cause more disharmony and disunity in the party.

On this one, Moyo, I salute you, you are on the verge of managing to destroy Zanu PF from within.

This is, however, possible should Mugabe continue to lead the faction against himself. From what transpired because your wife is the leader of the women’s league, you were fully aware of the agenda of the gathering. Stop this madness in the party now.

Do not destroy your legacy, leave a united party and country, as at the moment the party is at war with itself.

Grace Mugabe’s mental state worrisome: ex-Zim MP

16 February 2016 at 09:45am

Harare - Former Zanu-PF MP for Hurungwe, Temba Mliswa, has suggested that Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, who has gone into a tirade attacking vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, is mentally unstable.

Addressing a press conference in Harare on Monday, Mliswa said Grace Mugabe’s mental state had led to decisions which had brought the country to its knees, and impacted negatively on the reputation of President Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe as a country.

“We are now worried about the mental state of the first lady of Zimbabwe. This is a serious issue…” he said.

Mliswa, who is now the National Co-ordinator of Youth Advocacy for Reform and Democracy (Yard), said the attack by Grace Mugabe on Mnangagwa at a rally in Chiweshe on Friday was a sign of mental instability on the part of the first lady.

He said the first lady had overstepped her boundary by attacking Mnangagwa, adding that she had no capacity from both Zanu-PF and the government’s point of view.

He said as the vice-president, Mnangagwa should serve the country, not the party, and Grace Mugabe had no business commenting on government officials.

“The attacks have been constant, the former vice-president Joice Mujuru was attacked in the same way, and she was accused of witchcraft. This is a clear sign the first family believes a lot in witchcraft. They are constantly accusing people of witchcraft, but when you accuse people of witchcraft, you also partake in witchcraft, that is very clear," he said.

Mliswa said allegations by Grace against both Mujuru and the vice-president were trumped up and there was no evidence to support her claims.

“Now it is her (Grace’s) son who they want to kill. Again that is what vice-president Mnangagwa is being accused of. Again, there is no evidence shown to indicate this.”

Mliswa said it was clear the first lady was now calling the shots, adding that President Mugabe should come clean and tell the nation that Grace was now in charge of the country.

He said Grace should have reported to the police if she was sure Mnangagwa wanted to kill her children.

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