Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will be facing more opposition when his country next heads to the polls in 2018.
Mugabe’s former vice president, Joice Mujuru, has recently announced the launch of a new opposition party, which is said will shake up politics in Zimbabwe and become a major challenge to the long-standing leader, along with the current opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
To be dubbed Zimbabwe People First, the new opposition party says it will represent the citizens of the drought-hit, economically-challenged and hunger-torn southern African nation.
— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) March 1, 2016
According to News24, Mujuru made the announcement recently, saying her party members are humbled by the “huge amount of encouragement, enthusiasm and support shown by people from all walks of life.”
“Today is a historic day,” said Mujuru. “This is a day of significance in our country’s political history.”
The 60-year-old former vice president said Zimbabwe People First is putting all their structures in place so that in 2018 they will be ready to participate in the elections and “usher in a new political dispensation in Zimbabwe.”
Mugabe, who recently celebrated at a lavish, $800,000 birthday celebration in the region worst hit by the current drought, sacked Mujuru from her post as vice president back in December, 2014. He also purged a group of Mujuru’s loyalists from the government and from the ruling party, Zanu-PF.
— Nigeria Newsdesk (@NigeriaNewsdesk) March 1, 2016
At the time, Mugabe and his wife Grace accused Mujuru of plotting to kill the Zimbabwean president, but according to analysts it was far more likely Mugabe wanted to eliminate his most powerful rival.
Rugare Gumbo — a former spokesman for the ruling party — has joined Mujuru’s new party and says the Zanu-PF, who have governed Zimbabwe since its independence from white rule in 1980, has “derailed.”
“We fought for political, social and economic independence. All that is lost now.”
With an estimated 80 percent of the work force in Zimbabwe thought to be officially unemployed and hunger and poverty rife in the country, Mugabe’s critics blame the expulsion of thousands of white farmers by the country’s president for the economic decline in the southern African country. The farms were taken from the experienced white farmers and reportedly handed over to Mugabe’s “cronies,” who had no farming experience.
The same critics also accuse Robert Mugabe’s government of being riddled with corruption. In her speech, Mujuru said the “scourge of corruption needs to be totally uprooted.”
New Zimbabwe reports that Mujuru went on to urge all the country’s war veterans, police, army and intelligence services to stand up and defend the constitution of Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean leader‘s frequent trips abroad for medical treatment have recently fuelled speculation that Mugabe may be unable to contest the elections set for 2018.
There were also rumors, as reported by the Inquisitr, that Robert Mugabe had died while on his annual vacation in Asia in January, but it turns out he was reportedly not even unwell at the time.
It is reportedly a common thing for these rumors to start when Mugabe takes his annual sojourn overseas, but a former Zanu PF activist in northern Harare had said at the time they had got some extra “Scotch” in hand to celebrate, “just in case.”
It is hoped that the new opposition party, Zimbabwe People First, will shake up the country and make inroads into the governing of the economically-challenged nation, giving hope to its citizens in the future.
Zimbabwe’s former Vice President Joice Mujuru has launched a new political party to challenge Robert Mugabe. pic.twitter.com/ZC8taCKGn2
— NBS Television (@nbstv) March 1, 2016
However according to Sky News, while so far there is a positive response to the new opposition party, Zanu-PF spokesman Simon Khaya-Moyo has dismissed Mujuru’s party as “non-existent event.”
“So many [parties] have been launched before and have gone. We are still ruling. So what is new this time?”
[Photo by AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File; Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America]