Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Expelled former Vice President Dr Joice Mujuru’s putchist cabal is sponsoring candidates in some constituencies in Harare for the June 10 by-elections disguised as independents, but campaigning under the banner of the Zanu-People First project.
The cabal is made up of people who were recently expelled from Zanu-PF and Government for plotting to unseat President Mugabe unconstitutionally.
The move is aimed at testing the cabal’s support base and is in line with its plans to form a party under the banner of the so-called Zanu-People First.
If the contestants fare well in the by-elections, sources say, Zanu-People First party will be launched before year-end.
Sources said a lot of underground work is going on as the cabal tries to put up proper structures countrywide.
In Harare East, the cabal is bankrolling Mr Donald Chimatira, an independent who addresses himself on campaign posters as Cde, an honorific known to be used by Zanu-PF.
On his posters, Mr Chimatira wrote: “Vhoterai MP Cde Farai Marvelous Chimatira. I am for People First. Economic Transformation. Broad Based Empowerment. Electoral Reforms. Bill of Rights. Service Delivery and Zero tolerance to corruption.”
In Glen View South, the cabal is sponsoring Mr Farai Kuveya, whose message on his campaign posters is almost similar to that of Mr Chimatira.
Names for other candidates who were planted as independents in the remaining four Harare constituencies due for by-elections were not yet clear by last night.
Both Mr Kuveya and Mr Chimatira are using the People First tag on their campaign material and heavily borrowing from Zanu-PF’s empowerment policies.
The two are promising people economic transformation and broad based empowerment – a policy pilfered from Zanu-PF’s indigenisation and empowerment policy.
Although it is still sketchy as to who was bankrolling the cabal and its hangers on masked as independent candidates, there is a visible external hand in its programmes and campaign trail.
The candidates are using expensive gloss paper banners over and above dishing gifts in form of groceries to the electorate.
Self imposed spokesperson of the Mujuru cabal Mr Rugare Gumbo yesterday confirmed knowledge of the candidates contesting using their People First banner.
He claimed that the People First banner was for every Zimbabwean seeking change in the country.
“Yes we know those candidates as citizens who want to see change in the country,” he said.
“They have the democratic right as Zimbabweans to use the People First tag because it is for every Zimbabwean.”
Mr Gumbo however refused to shed light on whether they were planning to form a new party any time soon.
Sources added that the cabal was also setting up structures starting with the youth wing which Mr Mliswa is angling to lead.
Other names touted to be in the youth wing are Varaidzo Mupunga and Prince Shinya who were all kicked out of the Zanu-PF national youth league for working with the Mujuru cabal.
However, Zanu-PF warned the public against overstating Mujuru’s influence.
The party’s national commissar Cde Savior Kasukuwere last week said the only person who enjoyed immeasurable support in the country, as confirmed by the recent Afro-Barometer Survey, is President Mugabe.
The Afro-barometer survey revealed that President Mugabe is the most popular and trusted politician in Zimbabwe enjoying the trust of 63 percent of Zimbabweans.
Said Cde Kasukuwere: “I want to caution people from over-estimating Mujuru’s influence. Zanu-PF and the President have more support than anybody else. There can never be any day where someone, and I am speaking right now, has more support, more following, than His Excellency the President.”
Zanu-PF recently romped to a thunderous victory in two by elections held in Mt Darwin West and Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe.
Zanu-PF support is hinged on President Mugabe and his progressive policies.