Former Zim’s VP launces political party
Zimbabwe’s former vice-president Joice Mujuru, who was President Robert Mugabe’s long time deputy until she was fired in 2014, said on Tuesday she had launched a new political party to challenge the veteran leader.
Ms Mujuru, who was Mr Mugabe’s deputy for a decade and seen as the likely successor to the 92-year-old ruler, was removed from her ruling ZANU (PF) party and government posts on charges she led a "treacherous cabal" to oust Mr Mugabe from power.
In her first public address since her fall from grace in December 2014, Ms Mujuru told reporters that she had formed a new political party.
"Today we confirm our existence as a viable home grown political party. Zimbabwe People First is here," Ms Mujuru told a news conference to cheers and ululation from supporters.
"We are not fighting one man but a system, that system, which is unjust," said Ms Mujuru.
At least four former cabinet ministers who were fired by Mr Mugabe were at the launch of Ms Mujuru’s party, which was also attended by Western diplomats.
It is not yet clear how widespread Ms Mujuru’s support is and whether it would be enough to loosen Mr Mugabe’s tight grip on power.
After being fired from her party and government posts, Ms Mujuru was rarely seen in public, resorting to issuing newspaper statements that hinted at a future challenge to Mr Mugabe.
Crucially for Ms Mujuru, she still enjoys support from some of her comrades who hold senior positions in the military, according to her close aides. The military has provided the muscle to Mr Mugabe’s 36-year rule.
When firing Ms Mujuru in 2014, Mr Mugabe made the point that some of his top security chiefs were no longer giving him crucial security briefs; instead they were reporting to Ms Mujuru