By Mugove Tafirenyika
The Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) has once again been rocked by chaos, with the party’s elders — Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa — announcing yesterday that they are still in charge, not former army general Agrippa Mutambara.
The party, which was led by former vice president Joice Mujuru before a fallout between her and the elders, was rattled by defections and a subsequent split a few months ago.
In its latest squabbles, hardly a day after former Zanu PF politburo member Kudakwashe Bhasikiti announced the election of Mutambara as the new president, replacing Gumbo and Mutasa, a faction aligned to the duo dismissed the appointment.
They insisted Gumbo and Mutasa were still running the troubled opposition party.
Spokesperson of the faction Patrick Chitaka told the Daily News that Mutambara and Bhasikiti had all but fired themselves from ZPF.
“To us, the two are no longer with us as they have decided to form their own party after they unsuccessfully attempted to impose their leadership on ZPF,” he said.
There were ugly scenes which almost turned violent as ZPF youths questioned Mutambara’s “purported” election.
Former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda was said to have bounced back onto the political arena as the party’s political commissar.
Curiously, when contacted for comment, Sibanda said he was not aware of his supposed election, describing it curtly as “nonsensical” and promising to give a statement denying it.
Bhasikiti was not immediately available for comment as he said he was attending an important meeting.
But announcing the new leadership at the weekend, he said Mutasa and Gumbo will no longer have anything to do with the day-to-day running of the party, and will only act as advisers when, and if, need arises.
“We have agreed that . . . Mutambara becomes the interim president and he will manage the affairs of the party in association with the steering committee, we have also resolved that Gumbo and Mutasa remain advisers but with no dealings in the day-to-day affairs of the party, while Jabulani Sibanda will be in charge of the commissariat department, and Munacho Mutezo will be secretary for Finance,” said Bhasikiti.
However, Chitaka insisted that Mutasa and Gumbo remained the party’s leaders, saying Bhasikiti and Mutambara were free to “proceed and form their own party because we are not going to waste our time calling them for a disciplinary hearing for their conduct”.
“What we will not allow them to do though is to use the name of our party because we have realised that we are not walking the same path.
“We had called a management meeting to consider the four names that had been proposed as potential party leaders, including Ray Kaukonde, Jabulani Sibanda, Mutambara and Nkosana Moyo but when the other three said they were not interested, we decided that we would wait until congress.
“However, Bhasikiti and his group had made their mind on Mutambara and they wanted to have him as leader and they pushed us to interview him and the majority of us felt he fell short of what we wanted while they wanted him as leader regardless so they decided to foist him on the people which we said no to.
“We are therefore going ahead with our plans without them because they were a problem and against the coalition with other parties that we are pursuing,” he added. Daily News