Another acid test for Mujuru

HARARE – Former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her fledgling Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party face another big political test when they square up against Zanu PF in yet another by-election — this time in Mwenezi East.

This comes as Mujuru and ZPF are still smarting from the brutal electoral hiding they received in last week’s Bikita West by-election where their candidate, Kudakwashe Gopo, lost heavily to Zanu PF’s Beauty Chakabva.

Although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is yet to announce the dates for the Mwenezi by-election, which fell vacant in December last year following the death of Zanu PF legislator Joshua Moyo, ZPF says it will participate in the poll.

The seat has attracted the attention of senior party officials, including Kudakwashe Bhasikiti — who was expelled from both Zanu PF and the government for supporting Mujuru.

Bhasikiti confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that he was keen to participate in the by-election, if his party selected him as its candidate.

“People are going to decide. If they want me to contest, I will do so.  Although I am available, that doesn’t mean I am positioning myself as the suitable candidate for Mwenezi.

“I have the interest to serve my people so that their lives improve, but I will wait for the party and people to decide,” he said.

“We formed our party to contest in elections, so that we can provide solutions to the current economic woes. For Mwenezi, we are going to contest as a party so that we fulfil our mandate.

“Zanu PF knows that we are a strong party. The Bikita West defeat doesn’t stop us from participating in any election. We have to fight as a party.

“Although Zanu PF terrorises people, we want to put a spirited fight against all these anomalies. Our party was formed to offer solutions and stop Zanu PF’s misrule,” the former Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister added.

In the wake of ZPF’s heavy shellacking in Bikita West, analysts have said Mujuru has been left with “a huge mountain to climb”, regarding her capacity to defeat President Robert Mugabe and his warring ruling party in next year’s keenly-anticipated elections.

But Mujuru received a huge boost on Wednesday when opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai asserted that he would form a coalition alliance with her, despite ZPF’s crushing defeat to the ruling party in Bikita.

“The president (Tsvangirai) said one swallow does not make a summer and Bikita West is the swallow. It was a farcical election that cannot be used to measure someone’s popularity,” Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said.

“Yes, there are some people who want to use it to undermine the coalition. However, we will not allow that because we have already decided to do a cow-horn formation on Zanu PF. There is a national sentiment out there that we should form a coalition and that is what we are going to do. It is Zimbabwe against Mugabe,” he added.

Since Mujuru joined hands with Tsvangirai and marched with him on the streets of Gweru in August last year — in a rare public display of unity among the opposition — there have been growing calls by fed-up citizens for the formation of a grand opposition alliance.

Tsvangirai, the only opposition leader to have defeated Mugabe in a poll, has been holding secret talks with Mujuru and leaders of other smaller opposition parties to form the much-talked about pact, which they say will be in place before the end of this year.

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.