HARARE – Ousted former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s supporters have thrown down the gauntlet by urging her to “stand up to tyranny”, as many have sought to rally the ex-President Robert Mugabe’s deputy to challenge the 91-year-old.

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MUJURUUsing the platform or occasion of her 60th birthday today, a group calling itself the “original Zanu PF” — and using the People First slogan — yesterday virtually thrust her at the centre of their strategy to fight for a better Zimbabwe amid a deepening socio-economic crisis.

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Mujuru is reportedly spending her birthday at her farm in Beatrice.

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“Today, we join you in celebrating a key milestone in your life, attaining a healthy and youthful 60 years!” the group said in a statement signed off by “all the members of original Zanu PF”.

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“It is a happy coincidence that the start of the next chapter in your life coincides with a new chapter in the political history of our beloved Zimbabwe in the quest for true democracy and freedom,” it said.

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“Our Independence Day and true independence are around the corner.”

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Zimbabwe marks its 35th independence on Saturday, after throwing off the shackles of white minority rule in 1980.

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The birthday message also comes as pressure is mounting on Mujuru to lead a new party to challenge the 91-year-old president.

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The statement also savaged Zanu PF bigwigs for showing no care.

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“The future of Zimbabwe is in the hands of the people,” the statement said.

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“Borrowed robes can always be taken away as easily as they are illegally bestowed.

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“Amai — Happy Birthday, Amhlope , Makorokoto ngatifambeyi ne ndima.” (Do not tire)

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The statement came after Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF said they had summarily expelled her from the party last week, and at a time that the ruling party is on fire over contentious claims that her husband, whose war-time name was Rex Nhongo, plotted with her to oust and assassinate the nonagenarian before the revered late liberation war icon’s charred remains were found after the mysterious 2011 inferno.

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Yesterday’s birthday statement further said: “Thank you for reminding us of the original ideals of the liberation struggle, for being a true OG, (original) and wanting to secure a better future for us all despite the present temporary circumstances,” the statement added.

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“Your fight — is our fight; The OG’s struggle — is Zimbabwe’s struggle; Our dreams as a nation have been deferred, but only Zimbabweans can change their future. ‘Iwe neni tine basa’ (All of us have a huge task ahead) rings true.

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“Imi, nesu tine basa. (You and us have a job to finish) On this day we pledge our whole hearted support of you as members of the Original Zanu PF massive. Tinoti rambayi makashinga, tinemi, sisonke.” (Remain courageous and we are in this together.

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The statement further adds: “As you know the road to true democracy will always be fraught with trials and tribulations.”

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“We salute you for standing up to tyranny and the fight against undemocratic leadership and practices.”

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The birthday message also came as Zanu PF has now officially split into two distinct and bitterly-opposed formations, with disaffected party stalwarts — including liberation struggle pioneers, war veterans and security sector bigwigs — coalescing under the banner and principles of the “original Zanu PF” and using the slogan “People First”. – Daily News