By Ndakaziva Majaka
The ruckus in the troubled Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party took a surprise turn yesterday when one of the outfit’s disaffected founding fathers, Didymus Mutasa, said it was possible that they could reconcile with former Vice President Joice Mujuru if she apologised for her disputed “dismissal” of senior party officials last week.
At the same time, it also emerged yesterday that Mujuru was digging in about the control and use of the fledgling party’s image rights, which Mutasa and other party stalwarts stubbornly say belong to them.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily News On Sunday yesterday, Mutasa said despite the party elders’ stunning fallout with Mujuru, they were ready to let “by-gones be by-gones” — hardly a week after they acrimoniously parted ways with her.
“If she (Mujuru) invites us to work with her, we will consider that. We have been working with her all along and she is saying we wanted to expel her, that we wanted to stage a coup, which is as I said, a figment of her imagination.
“We will consider it if she actually asks us to work with her. We are the People First, VaGumbo and I are the founders of this People First party and it was formed and given that name in my house and we invited Mai Mujuru and she came here, and that is where we requested her if she could lead us and, she accepted to lead us in this house.
“You are probably going to see new leadership very soon, that is all I can say because we want to find somebody who is acceptable to the people of this country,” Mutasa said.
The former State Security minister and Zanu PF secretary for administration, also said despite their fallout with Mujuru, negotiations for a grand opposition coalition would continue under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera).
“The talks for a grand coalition still go on. I have talked to (opposition leader Morgan) Tsvangirai and also senior members of his party like Amai (Theresa) Makone and (Morgen) Komichi and they feel most upset about what has happened … and we are ready ourselves to join others to work together to get rid of the suffering of our people,” Mutasa said.
In a bombshell that shook both the opposition movement and ordinary Zimbabweans alike, Mujuru announced on Wednesday morning that she had expelled ZPF’s founding fathers Gumbo and Mutasa, together with five other party heavyweights — on account of them being alleged Zanu PF agents and working to topple her from her interim position.
“Having done extensive consultation within the rank and file of the party and also in my capacity as the president with the executive authority to ensure its wellbeing, I hereby announce the expulsion of the following members from Zimbabwe People First with immediate effect: Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa, Margaret Dongo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Luckson Kandemiri, Munacho Mutezo and Claudious Makova,” she said.
But no sooner had she completed her briefing than the situation turned into a complete farce, when Mutasa and Gumbo announced at their own press conference that they had similarly expelled Mujuru from ZPF.
Mutasa and Gumbo have since taken control of the party’s affairs after they claimed that they were the owners of the fledgling opposition party and its image rights.
In the meantime, Mujuru is said to be mulling changing the name of the party to avoid a messy fight with the former stalwarts, who were among her closest allies during their time in Zanu PF.
Amid the chaos, Mujuru has been working behind the scenes with Tsvangirai and other smaller opposition parties towards the formation of the planned grand coalition.
Analysts have also consistently said that a united opposition, fighting with one purpose, would bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule — especially at this time when the country’s economy is dying and the increasingly frail nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu PF united.
Recently, Tsvangirai also said Mujuru had proved to be a significant opposition player — and that the two would work together with others to dethrone Mugabe and Zanu PF from power next year.
Mujuru was expelled from Zanu PF together with Gumbo and Mutasa in the run-up to the ruling party’s sham “elective congress” in December 2014, on untested allegations of plotting to assassinate and topple Mugabe from power. Daily News