By Innocent Ruwende
A handful of supporters turned up for the inaugural meeting of former President Robert Mugabe’s pet political project, the National Patriotic Front (NPF)’s inaugural meeting in Harare yesterday.
It is believed that the party’s founding executive committee was chaired by Ms Eunice Sandi Moyo — a Zanu-PF reject whom The Herald indicated last month was part of the political formation — as interim leader Brigadier General Ambrose Mutinhiri (Retired) was understood to be away.
However, reports suggest that the former First Family, which is believed to be the brains behind the party, is no longer willing to have him stay on as the leader.
NPF spokesperson Mr Jealousy Mawarire yesterday said the inaugural meeting was provided for by the transitional clauses in the party’s constitution.
“Our first NFEC (national founding executive committee) meeting deliberated on the modalities for our inaugural national rally at which portfolio secretaries, the national chairperson and the presidium will be officially announced at a ceremony befitting the big political party that we are,” said the nomadic Mawarire formerly of Mujuru’s People First, National People’s Party and now NPF.
“We had provincial secretaries and secretaries of different departments to deliberate on our roll-out plan, which will see us unveil the various party structures we have been quietly working on.”
Mr Mawarire said the party, which will announce its leadership in the next three to four weeks, was going to field candidates in all contested seats available for the harmonised elections this year, including the 1 958 council seats and the 210 parliamentary seats.
Yesterday, the self-exiled Professor Jonathan Moyo, who is understood to be a key member of the party posted pictures of the scant delegates at the meeting on his Twitter handle.
The party members were donning yellow T-shirts — ominously similar to the Mavambo political colours — and emblazoned with images of former president Mugabe and the late Father Zimbabwe Dr Joshua Nkomo on the front and back respectively.
A source privy to the goings on it’s the NPF, which is predominately made up of aggrieved members of the G40 faction that were kicked out of Zanu-PF, told The Herald last month that the party sought to appropriate liberation symbols in a desperate bid to relaunch their doomed political fortunes.
“Obviously, there is still a presumption that former president Mugabe retains an appeal and therefore anoints leadership to this new, old political formation,” said a source. “This is G40 by a different name. Instead of a G, they have put an N. And the idea being to appropriate the Patriotic Front in order to give it the decency and resonance of the liberation struggle so as to undermine Zanu-PF during the forthcoming elections.”
The NPF’s inaugural meetings happen at a time when the political project is understood to be tottering on the brink of collapse after Prof Moyo accused former president Mugabe of lying that Gukurahundi was caused by Zapu and the Ndebele people.
In a press conference held for select media on March 15 at his Blue Roof mansion — ironically calculated to drive the NPF political project — Mr Mugabe, who was asked to explain circumstances surrounding Gukurahundi, claimed that the military campaign was a pre-emptive operation to forestall Zapu’s plot to overthrow his newly-elected Government after independence in 1980. But the sharp-tongued Prof Moyo, in an interview with The Standard at the weekend, called out his boss, who is considered to be the godfather and de facto leader of NPF, ostensibly for lying.
Senior members of the contrived party are also understood to be already pushing for the ouster of interim leader Brig-Gen Mutinhiri (Rtd), hardly a month after its formation.