ZIMBABWE People First imploded this week with Dr Joice Mujuru expelling seven senior members of the party on Wednesday, followed by those seven, including Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa, expelling her in turn after they claimed she had no authority to expel them. Star FM's Senzo Mpofu (SM) sat down with one of the expelled members, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (KB), to understand what was going on at People First and who was in control of the party.
SM: Mr Bhasikiti, what actually happened? Can you give us a timeline of events that took place to reach the point where you were thrown out? We can't say it came out of nowhere, so what actually happened to reach this point where your leader no longer wants you in the party?
KB: The first thing that happened for us to know that People First was no longer going according to the plan and ideology we had set out was that Mai Mujuru started taking her relatives and surrounding herself with them. Those relatives then became her advisors and she stopped taking advice that was coming from our meetings.
It started when she took her relative, David Butau. We told her that Butau could not do the job that she wanted to give him because he is not in line with our vision. She told us he was her brother and could not leave him.
She then took Dzikamai Mavhaire and we said, Mavhaire is old, he can't be in the organisation of Zimbabwe People First and be one of the leaders. But again she responded that he was her brother and had faith in him.
We then went ahead and she took a guy called (Gift) Nyandoro and said this is the one whom I want to be my spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire should be removed. Mawarire then came crying to us and we took him to Mai Mujuru and said if you've removed Jealousy what will the country say if you put your relative there?
She then said "Okay we won't let Jealousy go, he will be the party spokesperson but my spokesperson will be Nyandoro". We then said, the way this party is going, it's going beyond some of the things that happen at Zanu-PF because this now became a Mujuru family affair.
Then people met at a steering committee and said Mavhaire must be removed because he is causing divisions and factions in all provinces so he should be re-assigned. At People First we do not expel, we just re-assign. We agreed that he would only be a steering committee member.
Mai Mujuru then said that she would sleep over it. The next day she came back and said "I can't remove my brother from that post because I don't trust anyone else". That's where we started to see that Mai Mujuru was not fit to lead the party. We all said until Mavhaire is removed, the party can't move forward properly.
The youths also agreed that he was a problem and the women's league said the same thing. Once they said that, they became her enemy.
That wasn't the only problem. We were amazed to see that the draft constitution that we had agreed on now had a second draft that was written by her relative Nyandoro. Mai Mujuru then told us that he was fixing it because he had seen some mistakes.
We then asked if it was something she could do alone. Within a short period of time we were told that there was a third draft of the constitution. When we looked at it, it was different from the first draft that we had lodged at ZEC when we launched our party.
We then said, this is now scary. Our party was supposed to be unique and unite the nation. We, for example, didn't want to have two vice presidents. South Africa is an example of a country with one vice president.
SM: So you are saying Mai Mujuru wanted there to be two vice presidents?
KB: She put it in our constitution when she changed it so that there were two VPs. The women's league rejected it. The youth league, Luckson Kandemiri and company, also rejected it. So Kandemirl and Margaret Dongo's crime was rejecting the two vice presidents and telling her that what she was doing was not going according to the founding ethos of the party.
My crime to her was that while we were in a meeting I told her that she had lost her way and was no longer fit to lead the party as I had no faith in her as a president. I told her that going forward, I was no longer happy with what she was doing because it was not what we had promised the people.
What if we were to form a government with her acting that way? Would she just change the constitution? Would she surround herself with her relatives? I told her that I no longer wanted to be led by her.
SM: Looking at that, according to the media, the real disagreement was around the fact that Rugare Gumbo had said he did not want a coalition with Morgan Tsvangirai whom he called "Chematama". Some say this is what caused the rift in your party.
KB: Those are lies. That's what we call propaganda that people put in the media. The people who first called for a coalition when others didn't want were Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa.
Mutasa is actually the one who went and signed the agreement to join forces with other parties under NERA. Mai Mujuru actually refused to join NERA saying it would make Tsvangirai stronger and our people would leave us.
In all the NERA meetings, she refused to show up. Ask Tsvangirai and others, they know this. We would have those meetings with Mutasa, Mutezo and myself I would go. All those who are said to not want the coalition are the ones who went to the coalition meetings.
For Mai Mujuru to talk to Tsvangirai it was because of Mutasa and Gumbo. It's a lie that people are peddling to please Tsvangirai so that he thinks that we rejected him. But he himself knows the truth.
SM: Is it true that in People First there is now tribalism?
KB: That is big and what is happening in the party and why people wanted Mavhaire to be removed. Mavhaire is Zhou, there are really major transgressions that he committed in the party, some so big that if they came out it would be a national embarrassment.
So we said if the party is accused of such wrongdoings, how will we remove corruption from the party if those among us are doing such things? That is why we said Mavhaire should be re-assigned but she refused.
SM: What of reports that Ray Kaukonde is now going to lead your faction of People First?
KB: Our party is a democracy. Our culture is that whoever wants a position can compete for it. So if Kaukonde wants a post, he has the right to compete because this is part of our laws. So to make it seem like so and so wants this post, this is something we encourage because we want a lot of people to compete for posts so that we find the best possible candidate whom the people choose.
That being said, I haven't spoken to Kaukonde and heard him say he wants to be president. So I don't know where that is coming from. But our culture in People First is anyone is allowed to compete for whatever post they want.
SM: So what is your party going to be called now that there have been these expulsions and what is going to happen to the assets of the party?
KB: The founding members of People First, the people who sat down and said we are starting a party called People First, are Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa. Once they were done organising their party, they looked for someone to call the chief executive, a senior manager, to operationalise our party. That's when they went and found Mai Mujuru.
SM: So had you not observed her character and seen that she was not suitable? You chose her to lead, but what happened for her to be chosen, especially now that barely a year or so you now say she is not the right person?
KB: Our problem in this country and in our culture is that we think that fame and achievements of a husband can transfer to the wife. The name Mujuru became famous because of Solomon (the late Mujuru) who was the commander of the armed forces. We thought that this was the same for his wife.
We didn't know that even President Mugabe had seen that when he made her Vice President there was nothing of substance there and that Mujuru was the name of the husband. What is inside her is from her Mugari side. So Joice Mugari is different from Mujuru.
We only understood this when we gave her this post and asked her to work. We saw that the mettle of Mujurus was different from that of the Mugaris. Mugari is a person who is only fit for housework.
SM: If today you were to hold a rally, now that you have split with Dr Mujuru and she were to hold her own rally at the same time, would people come to your rally?
KB: What is clear is that people have seen the truth for themselves. When we started the party we hid some of the disabilities that we saw. This is why Rugare Gumbo would speak a lot.
But you've all seen what happens when Mai Mujuru goes on an international news platform and speaks on her own. Outside people ended up asking why she was being made a leader when she is incapable.
How can a person who has been given a job throw out the owners of the company? She is not intelligent. Going forward, people will realise that she is not the person you want to follow.
- the herald