HARARE – Zanu PF has extended an olive branch to former party cadres who were sacked between 2014 and last year.
The Daily News can reveal that Zanu PF functionaries — acting on instructions from President Emmerson Mnangagwa — have been in touch with some of the expelled members in a bid to strengthen the party, ease political tensions and get everyone behind efforts to revive the country’s economy.
Among those invited back into the party are Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa, Ray Kaukonde, Ambrose Mutinhiri, Joice Mujuru and Dzikamai Mavhaire.
Zanu PF’s secretary for administration Obert Mpofu told the Daily News yesterday that plans to bring back the sacked cadres were at an advanced stage.
“The process is on now; we are overwhelmed by comrades who are willing to come back,” he said.
“We are currently working on that and we will be coming with a position soon. We are saying comrades must come back and the president wants all to come back to the party and help in the building of our country,” added Mpofu.
Mpofu claimed yesterday that many of the former heavyweights were approaching the party on their own volition.
He said: “We have been approached by many and these are not ordinary people but senior former members of the party and we are engaging them on a daily basis”.
Gumbo, a former Zanu PF politburo member, confirmed to the Daily News that he had been approached by deputy Defence minister Victor Matemadanda to return to Zanu PF.
“He gave me time to decide and I am reflecting on it. It’s not a question of making a decision but understanding the conditions. I don’t want to jump into the fray and get my fingers burnt in the process,” Gumbo said.
Zanu PF’s constitution requires any individual willing to return to the party to appeal to its central committee, which is its policy-making organ.
Thereafter, the appeal is taken to an ad-hoc appeals committee of congress whose decisions shall be final.
Zanu PF cut ties with several of its members at the height of factional fights that rocked the party in the past four years.
During that four-year period, over 200 senior party members were either expelled or suspended from Zanu PF for various reasons.
Zanu PF is particularly keen on bringing back former vice president Joice Mujuru, along with a coterie of her backers who were shown the door by former president Robert Mugabe between 2014 and 2015.
Mujuru and her cabal were expelled on allegations of seeking to topple Mugabe from power.
Her dismissal saw 15 ministers being dropped from Mugabe’s Cabinet, in a serious carnage that threatened to break the party.
Some of the veterans of the country’s liberation struggle, among them Mutasa and Gumbo, were among those affected.
Others included Kaukonde, Mavhaire, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Jabulani Sibanda, who went on to form the moribund Zimbabwe People First (ZPF).
A few months after its formation, ZPF split because of irreconcilable differences between its founders.
Mutasa and Gumbo were among those who clung to the party’s name and offices while Mujuru moved on to form the National People’s Party.
Before their sacking in 2014, Mutasa was the party’s secretary for administration while Gumbo was its spokesperson. Both were members of the party’s politburo.
While Mugabe thought he had dealt with factionalism within his party, it reared its ugly head again a few months later.
Soon after Mnangagwa assumed the vice presidency, several of his allies were booted out of the party as a result of the internecine fighting between Generation 40 (G40) and his Team Lacoste group.
This resulted in Mnangagwa’s expulsion, before he bounced back as president with the assistance of the military, which orchestrated Mugabe’s resignation last November.
With his ascendancy to power, many who were aligned to the G40 were pushed out, with former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao going into self-imposed exile.
While the party is also working on reintegrating those who were shown the exits following Mugabe’s forced resignation, Moyo is still being considered a pariah in Zanu PF and will thus remain expelled.
The former Higher and Education minister continues to be a pain in the backside of Mnangagwa’s administration and has turned social media into an effective weapon that he is using to denigrate his leadership.
Grace Mugabe, the former first lady, is also not being considered for readmission despite her sudden warming up to Mnangagwa.
Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News that Mnangagwa wants to rebuild the party, founded in August 1963.
They said the president is unhappy with perceptions that cast his administration as a faction (Team Lacoste) and wants all well-meaning party cadres to come on board to present a national outlook.
Mnangagwa has even outstretched his hand to the opposition parties, including the MDC Alliance led by his main rival, Nelson Chamisa.