Dongo rallies behind Mujuru
By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – In line with the adage that a week is a long time in politics, firebrand war veteran Margaret Dongo yesterday pledged her loyalty to former Vice President Joice Mujuru, dispelling concerns that she was working against the “original” Zanu PF formation that uses the slogan People First, which is locked in a bitter power struggle with President Robert Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF.
Seven days ago, Dongo was identified with a new political outfit, the Movement for People First — which was said at the time to be different from the “original” Zanu PF that is fronted by stalwarts of the country’s liberation struggle, and whose presumptive leader is the popular widow of the late feted guerrilla leader, General Solomon Mujuru.
But concerted lobbying behind the scenes by Mujuru’s close allies, as well as successful appeals for “patience” on Dongo’s part and that of a group of restless war veterans who were rallying behind her, appear to have persuaded her to abandon the plans to form her own separate political party.
Dongo, the interim chairperson of the Movement for People First, told the Daily News yesterday that she and her comrades were fully behind Mujuru, whom they wanted to lead the People First movement and rescue the country from “the edge of the precipice” where it had allegedly been placed by Mugabe’s “35 long years of misrule”.
“It is necessary to correct the seeming impression that what we have launched is a fully-fledged political party that works against the People First’s aspirations to form a new political party in Zimbabwe.
“The correct scenario is that the Movement for People First is a grouping that is set to work towards a common political front under Cde Joice Mujuru, but with an interim mandate to do anything and everything that the looming larger party would have done had it been launched.
“We are therefore a mobilising and information-gathering tool of the coming bigger party, hence the reference to me as interim chairperson of the Movement for People First and not its president,” Dongo said.
The formation of the Movement for People First had come amid fears of the heavy infiltration of the “original” Zanu PF formation by State agents, even as the liberation war stalwarts who are spearheading its uncoiling were adamant that nothing would stop the formation of the planned party.
Sources privy to the goings-on in People First also told the Daily News yesterday that Mujuru herself — who is apparently very close to Dongo — was being kept abreast of the planning work for the official launch of the “original” Zanu PF. The former VP had also apparently impressed it on all her supporters to unite and work for a common cause.
When Dongo announced the launch of the Movement for People First, she said it had “a great team of patriots driven by a very strong conviction that there is need, given this country’s prevailing political, social and economic circumstances to come up with a truly and practically people-centred, patriotic political formation whose premise is the people themselves”.
Analysts told the Daily News then that Dongo’s move would put immense pressure on the seemingly hesitant Mujuru, who had been touted as the leader of the People First movement, although she is still to personally and publicly pronounce her association with the rival Zanu PF formation herself.
“Therefore, for all those persons who have been enjoying it on the fence, claiming they are out of Zanu PF, we say this is the occasion for them to show where they really stand, whether they like it or not. The enemy has been provoked, it is time to engage,” Dongo said in remarks that were interpreted as targeted at Mujuru.
Dongo, who says she was mentored into politics by Mugabe’s first wife Sally, recently received death threats, allegedly from government spooks, because of her political work. She has regularly challenged Mugabe and Zanu PF on their failings and misrule. Daily News