Thursday, 3 March 2016

Mujuru's move

Zimbabwe's political scene has opened up this week as former Vice-President Joice Mujuru launched her new party, Zimbabwe People First. ZANU-PF is riven by factionalism as the race to succeed President Mugabe intensifies. Mujuru's new party is the most important new contender since Morgan Tsvangirai launched the MDC in 2000, a party which has all but fallen apart from internal divisions. She could bring across strong support from the beleaguered ZANU-PF.

But what, her enemies still in ZANU-PF ask, can Mujuru can offer that she could not over the last 35 years of working under Mugabe? Courage is one answer. She has broken with Mugabe, and then shrugged off bizarre accusations of plotting against him. Her ZANU-PF supporters have long outnumbered those of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Already, a group of youngish Turks around Grace Mugabe has launched its own plot to scupper Mnangagwa's ambitions to succeed Mugabe. Now Mnangagwa could be caught between Grace and Joice.

Mujuru is the first ZANU-PF insider with clout and liberation-war credibility to break ranks and offer an alternative to Mugabe. Indeed, Mnangagwa may find that the casting out of Mujuru from ZANU-PF could have been the end, not the beginning, of his chances of succeeding Mugabe. The sight of four former ZANU-PF ministers, and ambassadors from Western countries, on the podium at Mujuru's launch event cannot have encouraged him.

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