ZANU PF, which is facing a plethora of economic and political challenges ahead of the 2018 elections, has hatched a plot to derail Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) project by taking back most of its members that had been suspended or expelled from the party.
By Everson Mushava
Senior party officials told The Standard last week that the recent decision by party leader, President Robert Mugabe to open appeal avenues for the lost members was instructed by the need to action the Mujuru derailment plot.
Many of the members expelled or suspended from Zanu PF are senior and influential politicians and a good number of them had shown inclination to join Mujuru’s party — presenting a serious threat to Mugabe’s Zanu PF.
Others were still sitting on the fence and the apparent welcome back to Zanu PF is likely to attract them.
Following Mugabe’s meeting with war veterans — who warned him that the suspensions and expulsions had destroyed and exposed the party to defeat — Mugabe immediately put together a committee to hear appeals against the expulsions and suspensions.
Besides this huge political challenge, the officials said, the prevailing economic crisis was a serious albatross on the party and Mugabe did not want to worsen this with a self-inflicted political misjudgement.
The recent bold display of political resurgence by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and talks of a possible coalition with Mujuru also got the party shaking.
Mugabe has appointed an appeals committee headed by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who ironically also chaired the national disciplinary committee which suspended and expelled the appealants.
However, the plot appears to be facing its own challenges as documents gleaned by The Standard show that of the 187 Zanu PF members who were either suspended or expelled from the party, only 48 have so far appealed to the party’s central committee.
Nineteen out of the 48 officials that were either suspended or expelled in the Midlands province have since appealed. They are mostly Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s loyalists who were recently kicked out, allegedly at the instigation of a rival faction in the Mugabe succession fights, the G40.
Four of them were, however, linked to Mujuru and they include former ministers Francis Nhema, Flora Buka, Jason Machaya and Fred Moyo. So far, only three officials, Aida Tongogara, Francis Chikwira and Clara Ngwenya have not appealed, the documents show.
No official from Manicaland where 12 were suspended or fired, has appealed according to the document. Senior former officials from the province include Didymus Mutasa who is now a top Mujuru ally.
In Masvingo 22 senior Zanu PF officials including government ministers were suspended or expelled. So far, only two former deputy ministers Paul Chimedza and Tongai Muzenda have appealed.
Others like former Energy minister, Dzikamai Mavhaire and Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti among other influential officials have not appealed and have already taken up senior positions in Mujuru’s political outfit.
In Mashonaland West those that have appealed include Kindness Paradza, Aldrian Musiiwa, and Ziyambi Ziyambi. Former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, former ICT minister Webster Shamu, Stephen Karenga and Joshua Chakona have also appealed.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo was not picking calls yesterday to confirm the veracity of this information.
But the party’s political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere while denying Zanu PF was plotting against Mujuru said the move to bring back “offenders” was based on mature decisions to grow the party.
“It is a process to grow the party,” Kasukuwere said.
“As Zanu PF, we are not afraid of any political party in the country. The fact of the matter is that, as Zanu PF, we respect the law and due process should be followed. Members who feel have been unfairly dismissed should be given room to appeal.”
He would, however, not say why the party had initially kicked out the members without giving them a right of reply or trial. These arbitrary expulsions claimed the scalps of party bigwigs like Mujuru, Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo and close to 200 other senior officials.
A senior Zanu PF official said the party was worried about Mujuru’s growing influence and would want to ensure that they lure most of the members who had been fired from the party.
“We will readmit most of those who were suspended. We want to reunite Zanu PF,” the official said.
“We want to make sure that no one joins Mujuru. This is why we have made the decision to invite appeals. We will readmit most members who will apply, except a few exceptional cases.”
ZimPF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said Zanu PF’s strategy would fall flat as no sane member would want to return to a party that chased them away like wild animals.
“I have seen the list of those that have appealed. They are very few compared to those who were fired. Those who have appealed are those who have always continued to work with Zanu PF even after they were suspended,” Gumbo said.
“This is an act of people who are totally clueless. They don’t know what they are doing. People come to People First because they see it as the only viable alternative. Zanu PF thinks Zimbabweans are fools and they can be manipulated even by falsehoods and pretence.”
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said there could be multiple motives in the Zanu PF decision. He said Zanu PF could be moving towards addressing the grievances of affected members or for face-serving purposes.
He however said the formation of ZimPF could be the biggest reason behind the decision. The party wanted to avoid an outpouring of important members to Mujuru’s party.
“When they expelled members accused of working with Mujuru, the victims did not have alternatives. Now there is an alternative in the form of ZimPF. When Zanu PF expels members, it will benefit ZimPF,” Masunungure said.
“The formation of ZimPF has actually saved Team Lacoste members. Mujuru is a salvation to Team Lacoste members. That is why you see G40 has scaled down suspensions on Team Lacoste members because they are afraid they will join Mujuru.”