Former Industry and Commerce minister-turned-Zanu PF critic Nkosana Moyo turned down an offer to become Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader, forcing the party to settle for ex-diplomat Agrippa Mutambara, it has emerged.
The party’s interim secretary for administration, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, told the media yesterday that despite assertions by their erstwhile comrades — Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa — that Mutambara was imposed, the whole exercise was carried out openly.
“Various names were put across and the two people who agreed to the offices for discussions were…Nkosana Moyo and…Mutambara,” he said.
“We invited them here at the party offices for discussions and Moyo said he had different views and could not become our leader,” Bhasikiti said, adding that “he indicated that he does not believe in political parties but will stand as an independent candidate in 2018”.
ZPF, founded last year, has been going through difficult times since it parted ways with its founding president Joice Mujuru, who now leads the newly-formed National People’s Party (NPP).
The party’s founding fathers, Mutasa and Gumbo, have since been relegated to advisory roles and yesterday, Bhasikiti said it was agreed by the party’s steering committee that the two were no longer fit to lead the party considering that they are “contemporaries of President Robert Mugabe” who is “struggling to steer the economy”.
Moyo — famed for publicly speaking out against attacks on businesses and factories by war veterans and later uncharacteristically resigning from Mugabe’s Cabinet about a year after his appointment — has turned into a fierce critic of the nonagenarian’s policies.
He also accuses the 93-year-old leader of surrounding himself with ministers who do not genuinely and properly advise him.
“When…Moyo said he wanted to be an independent candidate, he said to us all that Mutasa and Gumbo should become our advisers,” Bhasikiti said.
“However, Mutasa said Gumbo was supposed to be the president while he would become the vice president but the steering committee rejected them. However, if they still want to work with us they are welcome,” he said.
Recently, Gumbo issued a statement maintaining that the “elders” were still in charge of the troubled opposition party.
In his maiden speech as leader of ZPF, Mutambara, a retired brigadier general, said time had come for all Zimbabweans yearning for a better future to unite so as to end Zanu PF’s 37-year rule.
“We appeal to all Zimbabweans to shun divisive tendencies premised upon racial and tribal divisions…we are a party that is led by principle not patronage…successive Zanu PF governments have destroyed the moral fabric of our nation. Our youths have been trained and turned into killing machines,” said Mutambara.
In his speech, Mutambara slammed corruption and Zanu PF’s failure to resuscitate the country’s economy, which has been in terminal decline since the turn of the millennium.
With Zimbabwe hurtling towards the crunch 2018 polls, Mutambara indicated that his party would form a grand coalition with other parties so as to strengthen the opposition.
“All people opposed to the Zanu PF government that has reduced us to a nation of beggars must form a grand coalition to vote it out of power in 2018. Our vote and not the gun must be our weapon of choice in this struggle,” the former army general said.