Tendai Mugabe, Harare Bureau
RIVAL factions in the Zimbabwe People First party led by Dr Joice Mujuru and founding member Mr Didymus Mutasa yesterday swapped expulsions, in a move that signified the death of the fragile political outfit, barely two years after its formation.
First to throw down the gauntlet was Dr Mujuru, who accused Mr Mutasa and six other members of his group of plotting a “coup d’état” and being Zanu-PF infiltrators bent on destabilising the party before announcing that they had been fired.
Two hours later, Mr Mutasa and his group responded in equal measure, announcing the expulsion of Dr Mujuru from the same party.
The Mutasa group expelled by Dr Mujuru included Messrs Rugare Gumbo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Munacho Mutezo, Claudius Makova, Lucky Kandemiri and Ms Margaret Dongo.
In her address to journalists at her official residence in Harare, Dr Mujuru hinted that more heads would roll in the party.
“As a party, we have decided to take stern measures against elements determined to stall the progress that the party has been making,” she said.
“As a result, we have decided to eject some of the colleagues and comrades we thought would stand by the people’s cause, but have chosen to be the agents of the regime.
“All sorts of tricks ranging from coup d’état and sophisticated infiltration have taken centre stage with a view to delaying the people’s cause of unequivocal liberation.”
Without providing any shred of evidence, Dr Mujuru blamed Zanu-PF for her actions.
“We are equally aware of the desperate efforts by the Zanu-PF regime to ensure that Zimbabwe People First fails on its mandate to be the next government,” she said.
“Without equivocation, it is on public record that (President) Mugabe has boasted that there shall be ZimPF one, two and so on. As anticipated, the regime is desperate because of the exponential growth of our party and the fact that the party is firmly rooted on ensuring that the ideals of the revolution return to the citizenry.”
Dr Mujuru said the expulsions of Mr Mutasa and his compatriots were done after extensive consultations with the party structures.
As a counter strategy, Mr Mutasa and his group also convened a hurriedly arranged press conference at the party’s head office in Highlands, Harare, where they announced Dr Mujuru’s expulsion.
They said they had lost confidence in Dr Mujuru’s leadership, adding that as an interim leader, Dr Mujuru had no mandate to expel anyone from the party.
Mr Gumbo, who was the first to address journalists, said: “She has declared war on us. The dice has been cast. How can you have confidence in someone who expels you – and expelling you without any credible reasons? Yes, we have lost confidence in her (and) I do not think she is the right leader. We no longer recognise her as our leader.
“We will sit down as leadership of ZimPF, look into the issue, look into the challenges that the party is facing. We will do this as quickly as possible. I can assure you, we will do the best we can to find someone and if we can find good guys, young, competent guys or women to do this kind of thing, well and good. All we will do is to support them and try to direct them in the best way we can.”
Mr Gumbo described their expulsion as an unfortunate move by Dr Mujuru since they were the founders of the party who invited her to lead them.
He said Dr Mujuru had plunged the ZimPF project into a mess because of her “ignorance” and lack of understanding.
Mr Mutasa also had no kind words for Dr Mujuru, describing her as an unintelligent person.
He said they were expelled from Zanu-PF on her behalf, but her unprofessional behaviour was untenable.
“An intelligent Joice Mujuru would not have expelled Cde Gumbo or I because we were expelled from Zanu-PF on her account and any modicum of intelligence would have actually said, ‘these are untouchable’,” he said.
Retired Colonel Makova said Dr Mujuru’s dictatorial tendencies were worse because she had wantonly trampled on the ZimPF draft constitution without any semblance of respect.
“You can only be expelled by an elected executive,” he said. “We have said (President) Mugabe and Zanu-PF have expelled us without even calling us to a hearing.
“At least in Zanu-PF we were given expulsion letters. Here, there is nothing. Somebody just phoned me from Bikita asking me whether I heard that I had been fired from the party. Right now, in People First, there is no one who has the power to expel anyone.”
Rtd Col Makova said Dr Mujuru lacked credentials of a national leader.
“The only thing, if any, that she (Dr Mujuru) can lead, is her family,” he said. “She relies more on relatives and such kind of a person is a family person – a mother and not a national leader. This is not a party for a tribe. This is a national party.”