FORMER President Robert Mugabe’s fledgling opposition National Patriotic Front (NPF) party went up in smoke yesterday after firing its interim leader Ambrose Mutinhiri, accusing him of leaking sensitive information to the ruling Zanu PF party and blocking the party’s moves to join the MDC Alliance.
NFP spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire alleged Mutinhiri was working with an unnamed former Cabinet minister to destabilise the opposition party, adding that the decision to fire Mutinhiri was made at a high-level meeting held in Harare on Thursday and attended by seven provincial chairpersons.
“The meeting also noted that our interim president Cde Mutinhiri who at the national executive meeting held on May 9 in Borrowdale apologised for his nonchalant approach to the task the party assigned to him, still showed gross incompetence, lack of commitment to the party and its cause, therefore resolved to relieve him of his current duties pending reassignment Mutinhiri, according to Mawarire, “teamed up with a former Cabinet minister to hire thugs to disrupt the Thursday meeting where the decision to fire him was endorsed.
“Mutinhiri’s alliance with the former Cabinet minister points to a deliberate plot to disrupt party activities especially the ongoing coalition talks,” Mawarire said.
Party chairperson and new interim leader, Eunice Sandi-Moyo, also accused Mutinhiri of establishing parallel structures, but the latter denied the allegations and yesterday insisted that he was still NPF leader.
“He never worked with us and started establishing his own structures which he failed. We continued to work and he later came in May to apologise pleading to work with us. He never reprimanded me for working outside his mandate,” Sandi-Moyo said.
Mawarire chipped in saying: “President Mugabe has been clear that he will support a political party that is formed on the basis of a return to constitutionalism, empowerment of the black people. He (Mugabe) is aware we are going into an alliance. We have consulted him on the issue of the alliance. He is happy with the alliance talks. We have our solidarity to Chamisa but we are talking to a party now.”
The NPF spokesperson said negotiations for the coalition should be complete by Monday next week, adding they have already agreed on the allocation of seats.
But Mutinhiri, hastily organised a Press conference in the capital where he dismissed his expulsion as a nullity.
“I am its founding president and I am registered as such. There are people who have gone out of their way to chant slogans of other political parties. They have done that on their own, they have not been sanctioned by NPF,” he said in apparent reference to other top NPF officials who participated the MDC Alliance’s demonstration on Tuesday.
“We believe we are a people’s party and such decisions such as joining coalitions cannot be done without wide consultations,” said Mutinhiri.
He added: “We have organised a national consultative meeting tomorrow (today) to be attended by our supporters from all over the country. ..it is an interim leadership which should be confirmed by the people and this consultative meeting which we will have tomorrow will be confirming the national executive of the NPF as well as other issues such as coalitions. We hope we will win the general elections.”
NPF deputy national commissar Jim Kunaka said problems rocking the new party stemmed from a wish by some leaders to impose former First Lady Grace Mugabe as party leader.
“NPF is a new party and these people (Shadreck Mashayamombe, Mawarire and Sandi-Moyo) are dragging Zanu PF baggage into the party. They want to impose leadership on the people. They have lost it because they want the vice presidency of the alliance. Grace is the source of our problems and if it were not for her the military would not have staged a coup last year.
“We cannot sell the future of our people by allowing Grace to take charge of our party. I would rather commit suicide. She is not even in our structures, if she really wants she must follow due procedure,” Kunaka said.
“If anything they have fired themselves from the party.”