Photo: First Lady Grace Mugabe (far right) , former Vice-President Joice Mujuru (left) and President Robert Mugabe (centre) courtesy - Photo: 2016

NEWSBRIEF: Ex Vice President Challenges Mugabe in Zimbabwe

NEW YORK | HARARE (IDN | GIN) – Zimbabwe‘s former vice president, Joice Mujuru, was the headliner at a rally in Matabeleland in one of the first public events of the new Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) opposition party. The newly-launched campaign promptly took on the incumbent – President Robert Mugabe – in advance of elections in 2018.

Mujuru accused the government of being disinterested in the plight of the majority and promised to fight for the interests of ordinary citizens. “Zimbabwe People First is a new democratic, inclusive political party that accommodates every Zimbabwean… Please, get it from me, I am not going back to Zanu PF”.

A year ago, Mujuru began stitching together a platform, publishing plans to relax security and media laws and review divisive black empowerment legislation. She pledged to push for a free press and repeal restrictive media and broadcasting laws that ban private television stations and bar foreign journalists from working permanently in Zimbabwe.

Tough security laws that Mugabe has used against the opposition would also be removed, Mujuru said. A veteran of Zimbabwe’s independence war against white minority rule, Mujuru was once seen as one of Mugabe’s closest allies. However, she was dismissed from her government and ruling party posts in December on charges that she led a cabal that planned to topple Africa’s oldest leader.

Meanwhile, a two-page Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development (BUILD) – has been circulated that reads like an election manifesto.

“From the day we started, it was like we lit a matchstick at a gas station. Everyone was waiting for the formation of a party which is all inclusive even to those who were not interested in politics,” Mugabe’s former deputy said.

“When people heard there was a political party called People First they were saying ‘Mai Mujuru we were blaming ourselves asking what we were doing [in Zanu PF] when madzana mbwanana achitambwa nemazidinga aya’ [fools were playing with people’s lives],” she said.

Political commentator, Khanyile Mlotshwa, said Mujuru had a good chance to make an impression through her rally in Bulawayo.

“Her rally will be packed, as long as her political commissars appeal to the people on the basis of her stature… If they play the woman card, they are likely to draw a lot of women, some of whom have never been interested in politics, to her party… “

The ruling ZANU-PF party has already chosen Mugabe as its candidate for the 2018 presidential poll, when he will be 94. [IDN | INPS – 21 June 2016]

Photo: First Lady Grace Mugabe (far right) , former Vice-President Joice Mujuru (left) and President Robert Mugabe (centre) courtesy

IDN is flagship of the International Press Syndicate.

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