Zimbabwe’s former vice-president, Joice Mujuru, officially launched a new party to challenge her ally-turned-adversary Robert Mugabe, promising to revive the economy and repair strained relations with the West.
Mujuru was Mugabe’s deputy for a decade and seen as the veteran president’s likely successor until he fired her in 2014, accusing her of leading a plot to oust him.
In her first public address since then, she told reporters yesterday the new Zimbabwe People First party would bring jobs and review the ruling Zanu-PF party’s divisive black economic empowerment laws, which critics say have scared off investors.
She said she was open to alliances with other opposition groups before the 2018 presidential elections. There is no independent estimate on the size of her support.
“Today we confirm our existence as a viable, inclusive home-grown political party,” Mujuru, 60, said to cheers and ululation from supporters.
“We are not fighting one man but a system, that system which is unjust,” she said.
Welshman Ncube, the leader of a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, said there was a need for a “Table of Patriots”, whereby all opposition leaders should come together as equals to fight Zanu-PF. Zanu-PF cabinet minister Savior Kasukuwere described Mujuru’s party as a “gathering of losers”.
Zimbabwe is struggling to emerge from a deep recession that nearly halved its economy in 2008.
It is also facing its worst drought in years.