HARARE – As predicted, the worst nightmares of President Robert Mugabe’s warring post-congress Zanu PF are now being confirmed as dozens of the party’s cadres around the country ditch the former liberation movement for former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s People First. High-ranking ruling party officials conceded to the Daily News yesterday that the decision to purge Mujuru and her close allies from the party following its disputed December 2014 congress was increasingly looking like “a costly and monumental blunder”. “Things are not looking good on the ground as the party is now bleeding long-standing comrades to People First, and this is happening even before that party has been properly launched. “Our worry is what will happen to the party when Runaida (Mujuru) officially launches her outfit in the next few months? I’m personally beginning to see the fact that the decision to expel her was not well-considered and that 2018 will be tough,” a Zanu PF Mashonaland East bigwig lamented. The official also confirmed that many of the post-congress Zanu PF’s structures in the province were currently in disarray following “en-masse defections” by dozens of both officials and ordinary party members to the People First project. “It is clear that the decision to continue suspending and expelling people from the party (post-congress Zanu PF) because of their alleged links to Mai Mujuru is becoming a major driving force behind the stampede to People First. It is all proving counter-productive,” another regional official said. Other well-placed sources also told the Daily News that at least 22 former ruling party officials had attended a People First meeting in Goromonzi last Saturday, with “resources and a mandate to co-ordinate and aggressively recruit Zanu members”. These officials included former Zanu PF national youth league political commissar John Mushayi, former Mashonaland East provincial executive member Bonny Mutize, and another provincial executive member Solomon Ganye from Seke. Mushayi confirmed the defections saying since their suspension from the brawling ruling party they had been under pressure from the public to join Mujuru. “People are angry with the way she and all of us were treated because nobody was given an opportunity to state their case. This led people to conclude that they needed an alternative party which could usher in the kind of democracy that they have been yearning for, for a long time now. “Although we have not started serious mobilisation yet, it is clear from what we are seeing and hearing from people that they are ready for Mai Mujuru. “They see her as the solution to the many economic and political challenges that the country is facing and they are coming in their hundreds to ask for information about People First,” Mushayi said. Mutize also confirmed the Goromonzi meeting, although he refused to divulge its details — referring questions to People First spokesperson Rugare Gumbo. “The meeting of constituency co-ordinators went well, but I am not the one who speaks for the party and so you should get in touch with Comrade Gumbo,” he said. The Daily News also reported last week that many post-congress Zanu PF structures were in turmoil amid reports that Mujuru’s yet-to-be launched People First was vigorously “fishing” for members from among their ranks. Following her expulsion from both the government and the warring ruling party on untested allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate President Robert Mugabe, Mujuru and her team of disaffected liberation struggle stalwarts vowed to fight back and expose Zanu PF for the “paper tiger” that they claim it is. The Daily News has also revealed that a panicky post-congress Zanu PF was making frantic preparations for yet more Parliamentary by-elections after it emerged that dozens of the party’s legislators were holding meetings with Mujuru with the intention of joining her. Zanu PF insiders told the daily that it was “panic stations” among ruling party bigwigs who understood the fact that People First “is a reality and a major threat” to their fortunes ahead of 2018. “Never mind the fake bravado that the chefs (senior party officials) mouth off at public platforms, it is panic stations in the party. “Provinces, particularly Mashonaland East, have been instructed to prepare for tough by-elections for the MPs who want to ditch us,” one of the sources said. This was confirmed by Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Joel Biggie Matiza at the time who said party supporters were suspicious about the motives and machinations of some of their comrades who they were no longer willing to continue working with as the comrades were said to be planning to join Mujuru. “That is the exact reason why we recommended that some of these people be expelled because we realised they are no longer with us as they are now working with the opposition. We are only waiting to hear from the politburo concerning their fate,” Matiza said.