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Opinion / Columnist

ZimPF demise weakens opposition

16 Feb 2017 at 06:08hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has been vindicated. Having foretold the disintegration of former vice president Joice Mujuru's Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) during celebrations to mark his 92nd birthday at the Great Zimbabwe Monument in Masvingo last year, the Zanu-PF leader will undoubtedly have something to chuckle about while celebrating his 93rd birthday in Matabeleland South later on this month.

By the time the celebrations take place on February 25, ZPF might have fizzled out into nothing after Mujuru wielded the axe on seven high ranking officials, who included the founding fathers, for supposedly supping with the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Hours after that move, mass high profile resignations followed while Mujuru herself was, in circus fashion, disowned by the party's founding fathers.

But the country's biggest opposition, the Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) may have just been offered a window of opportunity of going it alone and run away with the prize since it had already shown some reluctance to join hands with other parties.

Some in the main opposition camp such as Thokosani Khupe must be mischievously smiling and saying: "I told you so."

"All sorts of tricks, ranging from coup d'├ętat and sophisticated infiltration, have taken centre stage with a view to delaying the people's cause of unequivocal liberation," Mujuru confessed to a startled opposition, which had been expecting to form a major coalition anytime soon.

With indications that the fallout largely emanated from the fact that Mujuru's former comrades in arms were vehemently opposed to a possible coalition with other opposition parties and that they had tried to stage a coup on her is telling of future for any coalition in the country.

Mujuru singled out the party's elders' advisory council of Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo; former Zimbabwe Union of Democrats leader, Margaret Dongo; former Zanu-PF Politburo member Kudakwashe Bhasikiti; former cabinet member Munacho Mutezo; former Zanu-PF Bikita West legislator, Claudius Makova; and former Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial youth chairperson Luckson Kandemiri as the major rubble rousers.

The drama that has ensued ever since then is nothing short of an epic soap opera that can easily qualify for the event of the year 2017 accolade.

When the seven turned the guns on Mujuru saying the country's first vice president had actually pre-empted her exit from the party because the seven "rebels" were about to finalise moves to recall her from her position as the interim leader of the party due to her dictatorial tendencies.

Almost everyone in the opposition have convinced themselves that a coalition involving Mujuru and Tsvangirai was the best weapon needed to wrest power from President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, who have presided over the affairs of the country since independence in 1980.

And now with Mujuru parting ways with her trusted lieutenants, the million dollar question is: What will become of the coalition talks and will it be able to have the bite it was expected to have prior to the ZPF split?

Analysts believe that the coalition will go on as backing off due to the ructions would confirm reports that Mujuru is weak and unfit to be a leader.

It is highly likely that she will limp her way to the negotiating table to salvage something out of a political career that appears to be faltering.

But even that which will remain as the legitimate ZPF will not last a mile after most national and provincial youth members have also left the party in reminiscence of what befell former finance minister Tendai Biti's People's Democratic Party.

Media Centre director, Ernest Mudzengi believes that Mujuru's party will survive as a weak party unless it is swallowed by the MDC-T.

"In one form or the other, it (ZPF) will survive, but as a weak party. There are a lot of briefcase political parties here in Zimbabwe that have existed in name without any structures. However, another issue is that there are coalition talks and the party might get one or two seats in Parliament in 2018 because of the MDC-T, which will support its candidates in some constituency," he said.

Witwatersrand University based political analyst, Blessing Vava, concurred with Mudzengi that Mujuru would survive and reckons that she has been "cleansed" by this incident which has given her the blessing to go to congress where she will formalise her structures.

"Mujuru has been cleansed; Mutasa, Gumbo and friends are yesterday's evil actors and their deeds are captured in past archives. She will survive. What she needs to do is to organise a proper congress and formalise her structures .They were two major factions in the Mujuru's camp: One is pro-Zanu-PF and one is pro-MDC-T and add CIO meddling in there, they wanted to split the coalition before it happened," he said.

Mujuru has often been accused of joining active politics not for the love of the people, but to get back at the party that chucked her out after serving it since her teenage years.

She was accused of being one of loose morals and as the one who had been plotting to assassinate the President as well as being involved in corruption scandals among a litany of allegations.

She has, however, never faced trial for any of the alleged criminal offences.

With the recent developments in her own party she now has two groups of people she is desperate to prove a point to: Zanu-PF and her fellow comrades she recently fired.

They have accused her of being an inept dictator, who is unfit for public office and this may force her to go for the coalition route which may enhance her chances of surviving politically.

Other observers are, however, convinced that the coalition now has a greater chance of seeing the light of the day, albeit with Tsvangirai now having an upper hand in the deal because he and his party seem to have benefitted from the ZPF dog fights which have diluted their negotiating power at the coalition talks.

Those in the MDC-T, who might have been dragging their feet on the coalition thinking that Mujuru's party would give them a headache especially on the sticky point of leadership of the coalition, they may now be feeling relaxed since they are in with an easy chance of taking the leadership.

Mujuru is probably at her weakest and devoid of the backing of sharp minds that can stand against the formidable brains from the MDC-T's camp like vice president Nelson Chamisa, party spokesperson Obert Gutu, and legal expert Douglas Mwonzora.

"Politics is all about taking chances. Agreeing on terms of a coalition is a mammoth task, but with events next door I feel it may be relatively easy for us now. I foresee a situation whereby president Tsvangirai would easily get the ticket to represent the coalition without much debate," said a source within the MDC-T.

Analyst Rashweat Mukundu, however, disagrees suggesting that the split has benefitted Mujuru more because there are also fights within the MDC-T with some elements against a coalition with her and it may be a matter of time before one hears of yet another crack in the MDC-T itself.

"I think the fissures actually help Mujuru in making quick decisions on the coalition with Tsvangirai. The elders were impeding the whole coalition process, according to Mujuru and without them she can easily quicken the talks," said Mukundu.

Another political analyst, Abel Kapodogo said Mujuru had to sacrifice the hardliners in her party to pave way for the coalition saying Mutasa and Gumbo were obstacles to the coalition because they have strong Zanu-PF indoctrination and ideologies.

"They hate the persona of Tsvangirai and what he stands for. This hatred has been nursed over the years and to them he represented the former colonialists and it was difficult for them to work together. The coalition between Tsvangirai and Mujuru is now done and dusted," he said.

Social commentator, Pardon Taodzera, added that the coalition will be a reality because Mujuru has sent a strong message to Tsvangirai on how to deal with anti-coalition elements like Khupe who has been averse to forming a united opposition.

There are, however, concerns that due to Mujuru's faltering political situation, it therefore means that it would not be much of a coalition, but Mujuru joining MDC-T.

Political researcher, Fortune Gwaze, argues that a coalition is a marriage of two or more partners who bring different advantages on the table, but as it stands: "Mujuru is left with Dzikamai Mavhaire as the notable face, so it is going to be difficult for her to demand equality in the coalition."

But with Mujuru relishing the thought of getting the chance to fight her former boss, President Mugabe, in the 2018 plebiscite, the coalition leadership question will always remain a challenge.

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Source - fingaz
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