FORMER Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First (PF) project has reportedly made significant inroads in President Robert Mugabe’s home in Mashonaland West Province where it has roped in several disgruntled top Zanu PF and opposition MDC-T officials into its ranks.
Top Zanu PF officials in the province said the PF’s membership recruitment drive and campaigns were being coordinated by former MPs and provincial officials who were expelled from the ruling party after they were linked to the project.
These included recently fired former Mhondoro-Mubayira MP and ex-Minister in Mujuru’s office Sylvester Nguni and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo’s estranged wife, Marian.
Yesterday, Marian said: “No comment because nothing concrete yet at the moment mwanangu (my son) in case some people might read wrongly between the lines…Why not ask the People First leadership.”
Nguni could not be reached for comment yesterday.
This came as Mujuru and her party’s top brass last Wednesday, reportedly set up an interim executive in the Midlands Province comprising of former Zanu PF central committee member Wilson Svova (chairman), while one Marongwe based in Gokwe will lead the women’s league and Gweru-based Tanaka Manyadza will lead the youth league.
Other top party officials at the meeting which was held at a secret venue in Gweru included PF interim spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire and former Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti.
Mujuru reportedly told the meeting that People First was a God-fearing party and would not be involved in hate speech, intimidation or violence.
“We need to build a party that involves all the people and no one will be allowed to come wearing a bigger jacket than the other saying I was in the politburo or was an MDC-T official, but as ordinary card-carrying members. We are not going back to Zanu PF as it is a done deal,” Mujuru was quoted as saying.
Zanu PF acting Midlands provincial chairman Kizito Chivamba was unreachable for comment.
The ruling party’s acting Mashonaland West Chengeta however, said: “I have not received such reports, call me tomorrow (today) at 12 noon that’s when I will have checked with other provincial executive members.”
Contacted for comment over the alleged defections, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said: “We don’t feel threatened. Mujuru is actually a threat to Zanu PF because she will split it into halves. Kasukuwere (Saviour, Zanu PF political commissar) should actually be the one to panic not us. How can she be our enemy, in fact we welcome her. How can we be threatened by a party yet to be launched?”
But Gumbo said his party had permeated most parts of the country. He however declined to disclose the party’s launch and congress dates insisting that the dates would be announced “anytime soon” although other party members said the launch was likely to be held next month.
“There will definitely be a congress this year so that people are elected to positions and are not imposed. I can’t say when but it has to be this year. That’s all I can say for the time being,” Gumbo said.
However, it is reported that the PF elective congress could be held next month.
Recently, First Lady Grace Mugabe and Zanu PF Manicaland acting provincial youth chairman Mubuso Chinguno admitted that Mujuru had made inroads in several provinces although President Mugabe has brushed aside threats caused by his former lieutenant.
Former MDC-T national council member Abigail Sauti who lost to Chombo in the Zvimba North parliamentary elections in 2013 also confirmed that she had joined PF.
Sauti, however, declined to give reasons for her defection.
Former MDC-T Chinhoyi councillor Tendai Musonza confirmed that he and other MDC-T cadres had defected to PF accusing former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of failing to dislodge Zanu PF from power.
“We can’t remain in the wilderness forever. Mujuru’s project is the only working currency at the moment. Tsvangirai’s time is over,” Musonza said.
A provincial war veteran’s leader from Mashonaland West who refused to be identified said several freedom fighters had defected from Zanu PF to PF although they were yet to officially cross the floor.
“Zanu PF deviated from the reasons why we went to war and PF under the leadership of one of us (Mujuru) can bring back the train on the rail, not what we are witnessing now where political decisions are made in the bedroom (and) not at meetings,” the ex-combatant said.-Newsday