THE yet to be launched People First, a political outfit believed to be led by former vice president Joice Mujuru, has denied recruiting from other opposition political parties in an effort to boost its own membership.
The prickly issue of People First soliciting support from people in strongholds of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led by Morgan Tsvangirai in recent weeks has become a major talking point as it threatens to further widen the chasm between the already deeply divided opposition parties.
Tension has been high in the ranks of the MDC-T in the last few weeks as it emerged that People First was “fishing in its pond” — in the areas perceived to be traditional strongholds of Tsvangirai’s party.
People First spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, told the Financial Gazette this week that the party was little concerned with the current rumblings emanating from their colleagues in the opposition.
“It doesn’t concern us because we know that we are not mobilising and canvassing anyone from them. People come to us; they are attracted by the uniqueness of our brand, that we are a participatory movement and the inclusiveness which we offer,” said Gumbo.
“The people are attracted to us, the things which we espouse such as the rule of law, freedom, honesty and humility — all these are factors that count in the people’s appreciation of who we are. We don’t want to try and recruit people from other organisations.”
People First will have the bulk of its leadership comprising of former top officials in the ruling party who were fired in 2014 for various acts of misconduct which include allegations of plotting to unseat President Robert Mugabe from power and insubordination.
Political observers believe that a coalition of all the country’s opposition parties offers better prospects for dislodging the ruling ZANU-PF party.
But that coalition keeps being elusive as each of the opposition political parties seek glory by constantly positioning themselves to go it alone.
Last year, People First put forward an economic blueprint dubbed BUILD, an acronym for Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development.
The economic blueprint of the People First promises among other things to re-examine at policies such as the indigenisation law and land distribution, which have been cornerstone economic policies that have helped prop up ZANU-PF’s prolonged stay in power.
Gumbo indicated that People First was currently seized with setting up structures nationwide and was drafting its internal party constitution in preparation for launching the political outfit.
“When we are ready we will provide the information on when we are launching, we are in the process of setting up structures.
“We think that we need to have strategies, a constitution and core values because these are very important before we do anything else,” said Gumbo.
If the party finally comes to life, its first election contest will be in 2018 during which time it would join the fray of political parties hoping to remove both ZANU-PF and President Mugabe from power.
Gumbo said People First would have enough time to reach out to grass roots supporters.
“There is no question about it, absolutely. We will participate in the elections in 2018; all the structures will be there; and we want the involvement of all Zimbabweans even those in Diaspora in the polls,” said Gumbo.-Fingaz