President Mugabe is many things, but he is no prophet.
One of the things he is, is a master politician. The man has been in the thick of it for over 60 years. In those decades, he has seen a lot, heard a lot and learnt a lot. One of the things he has learnt is that flimsy political platforms are houses built on sand, statues with feet of clay, and they will flounder, wither and die as surely as night follows day. So when he said last year — with a mischievous but knowing glint in his eye — that we would soon talk of Zimbabwe People First 1, Zimbabwe People First 2 and so on, he wasn’t engaging in any esoteric pursuit or laying claim to any supernatural knowledge.
He was merely applying his incomparable experience of politics to analysing the most likely fate of a political party founded on the premise of banding together a coterie of rejects. It doesn’t work. The same way a coalition of losers only serves to multiply failure.
Let us look objectively at what has happened, is happening, and will likely happen. Firstly, Dr Mujuru did not leave Zanu-PF voluntarily. She was fired. If she had it her way, she would still be in Zanu-PF and Government as President Mugabe’s deputy — or perhaps still plotting how to replace him.
So her foray into opposition politics — which thus far has only been remarkable in how it has horribly exposed her shortcomings — was never her plan. It was a crown of thorns thrust on her unwilling brow with no hope of a resurrection to follow.
Secondly, she did not lead the formation of Zimbabwe People First. That was done by Messrs Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo and others.
She was invited to come aboard as an interim leader. This was done by people who had never been fully exposed to the sheer range of ignorance the woman commands (for those in doubt, look for the video clip in which she trashes bond notes because the United States has not granted its permission for their use).
When in Zanu-PF and Government, the world was insulated from her ignorance by several layers of bureaucrats.
Shorn of that cover, the ignorance is on display in all its awful glory.
Thirdly, many of the people who trooped to ZimPF did so in the hope that Zanu-PF would panic and immediately start negotiating for their readmission into the ruling party before the 2018 elections.
Zanu-PF called their bluff.
We know their names and soon you will read of them returning to Zanu-PF, penitent and eager to campaign. Just look at the way they have already started talking about President Mugabe’s brilliance and how much they admire him.
Fourthly, there never really was an ideological foundation to the formation of ZimPF. Saying “Mugabe must go” is not an ideology. It is not even a strategy. It cannot create sustainability, cannot deliver electoral victory. Ask Mr Morgan Tsvangirai if you doubt this.
Fifthly, and because of that lack of an ideological underpinning, it was easy for ZimPF to very quickly start begging for donor funds.
We saw Dr Mujuru doing a garish coquettish act in South African media as she tried to attract donors. We saw her answering her phone while addressing a motley gathering in the United Kingdom as she made her sales pitch.
Her former ZimPF colleagues now tell us that she got her 30 pieces of silver during those jaunts. And they are angry that she did not share the money with them. Let this be clear: her ex-compatriots are not angry that she sourced foreign funding and allegedly kept it to herself. Mr Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and friends wanted something put in their basket. They wanted their cut.
Never mind the Political Parties (Finance) Act and what it says about the illegality of the whole sordid thing, surely none of the actors involved can claim the moral high ground as they are all fighting to be the Judas of preference to deliver the kiss of death.
And maybe they realised that linking up with Mr Tsvangirai would make the fight for the 30 pieces of silver even more intense.
Anyway, a party that depends on foreign donors for money will soon find it relies on foreign ideas for an agenda.
That’s the way ZimPF has gone.
Going forward, any coalition between Dr Mujuru and Mr Tsvangirai will further strengthen the Western influence on the direction of opposition politics in Zimbabwe.
Again, as indicated earlier, it will also be a multiplication of failings and shortcomings. On the whole, the lessons are there to be learnt: a party not founded on solid principles and a coherent ideology will not hold together.
There is a good, bad example from Zanu-PF. The party is clear on gutsaruzhinji as the overarching objective which will be delivered by stoic nationalism and Pan-Africanism.
That is why it has been able to subsist amidst the buffeting of factional storms, desertions and lily-livered cadres over the years. So yes, factionalism is horrible, but it has helped demonstrate that the structural integrity of a party founded on a people-centred and sound ideology is not easily breached.