After the publication of her Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage Development (BUILD), former Vice President Joice Mujuru has been a subject of discussion in the media locally and internationally.
The most fascinating debates hinged on her chances to wrestle power from President Robert Mugabe or anyone among the Zanu-PF hopefuls in the event Mugabe does not represent the ruling party in the 2018 presidential election.
The debates in the state media, interestingly, centred on numbers that she is assumed to have or does not have rather than the contents of her economic blueprint. This is despite the evident, but unfortunate fact, that most Zimbabweans simply don’t know how to count and as a result their numerical prognoses are always devoid of basic logical reasoning.
The projection that Mujuru does not have people, whatever that means, lacks clarity on where the numbers are supposed to come from and why they are not there, if in fact she doesn’t have them.
More interestingly, no one cares to explain to us why so many people have been purged from Zanu-PF structures on allegations of supporting Mujuru when Mugabe’s bootlickers claim she has no following.
All we get to hear are mere speculations by political gladiators who have no skills, whatsoever, in both quantitative and qualitative research.
The state media, using former Mashonaland West Zanu-PF chairman Temba Mliswa and a shadowy columnist Nathaniel Manheru, have been trying to inculcate this untested hypothesis that Mujuru does not have people, is on her own and politically finished, but like the hallucinating ‘analysts’ they quote, the propagandists at Zimpapers offer no substantive facts to buttress their wild claims.
The argument that Mujuru has no following, coming from Zanu-PF successionists like Manheru and Mliswa, is evidently self-serving but functionally self-deceptive in the realm of politics and serves, only to pre-soothe imminent electoral wounds that Mujuru will certainly inflict on Zanu-PF and its apologists in the 2018 presidential election.
For starters, I should state categorically clear that despite Mliswa and Manheru assertions that Mujuru does not have appeal to the electorate and that her People First Project will be known for how many people have denied any association with it, I am one Zimbabwean who has been convinced that in Mujuru, Zimbabwe has hope politically and economically and therefore proudly, herein, declare that I am glad to be part of the People First project.
I have conviction that there is something fundamentally wrong with our national politics and governance as shown by the culture of vindictiveness, patronage, tribalism, name calling, disregard for constitutionalism, violence and political deification of leadership in Zanu-PF and that Mujuru, with her sober, motherly and moderate political inclination, provides a breath of fresh air to our politics that can bring in a whole paradigm shift in how we conduct ourselves politically as a people.
If Mujuru does not have people, as Manheru and Mliswa would like us to believe, she certainly has me, and I believe, millions more who, like me, see in her and her BUILD economic blueprint, the very genesis of our journey out of the political and economic arroyo that Zanu-PF has cast us into since the beginning of this millennium.
Mujuru, with her clear message on how to turn the country’s fortunes around, as espoused by the BUID document, and her ability to premise the document in the general plan that God has for this country, appeals to the heart and invokes the intrinsic patriotic spirit in most of us.
Her past history and political conduct and the fact that her message is simple but very effective, arouses the sort of nationalistic feeling that makes one realise that the war she is fighting, the journey she has taken, and the Promised Land she envisages, is worth the sacrifice.
It is an ideal, like Nelson Mandela would put it, that we are prepared to fight and live for and see realised but if needs be, it is an ideal for which we are prepared to die.
Looking at Mujuru’s message and vision in BUILD, it is very difficult to imagine that it can fail to attract numbers to its cause and what surprises me is the duplicity exhibited by most of the proponents of the notion that Mujuru does not have people.
While they parrot that Mujuru does not have followers when it suits them, on the other hand, they rush to celebrate expulsions of party cadres claiming they belonged to a group headed by Mujuru which wanted to topple Mugabe.
As of now, 153 very senior Zanu-PF party officials with grassroots support like provincial chairpersons, MPs and Provincial Executive Council (PEC) members, have either been expelled or suspended on allegations of being Mujuru loyalists. The worst case was in Masvingo Province where 35 out of 40 (87.5 %) PEC members were suspended for supporting Mujuru.
In August, a war veterans’ election in Masvingo was abandoned on allegations that Mujuru loyalists threatened to sweep clean all posts available.
If all these statistics and events do not show that Mujuru has people who believe in her and her capacity to lead this country, then nothing would.
Mujuru might not have figures attributable to her in the past presidential elections for she has not contested as a presidential candidate before like Tsvangirai and Mugabe, but she certainly has a niche that she can work on to mobilise support.
She has structures within Zanu-PF that have been working with her, at least as shown by the massive purging that followed the Zanu-PF December 14 2014 congress, and a lot of sympathisers within Zanu-PF, and outside, who believe in her ability to drag this country out of the economic quagmire that we are in today.
Statistics from the 2013 Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) election report show that of the total 6 441 157 registered voters throughout the country, only 3 480 047 (54 %) voted in the July 31 2013 plebiscite and 2 961 110 (46 %) did not cast their ballots and this is a very important niche that Mujuru can start with.
Of the 3 480 047 who voted, 2 110 434 (33 %) casted their votes for Mugabe while 1 172 349 (18 %) voted Tsvangirai while 2 961 110 (46%) chose not to vote for either of the two. These statistics show that there is a huge number of untapped votes that Mujuru can work on and win the presidential election in 2018.
In Bulawayo province, 133 698 people, (42%) of the total registered voters casted their ballots in the July 31 2013 election while 186 900, (58%) out of the 320 598 registered voters chose not to vote for Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube, Dumiso Dabengwa or Kisinoti Mukwazhi.
It is this 58% in Bulawayo province that Mujuru can set out to understand and persuade to vote come 2018. The same goes with the 368 496 (47%) out of the total 784 266 in Masvingo Province that did not vote.
It is interesting to note that the number of people who did not vote in each province far exceeds the highest number that voted for each presidential candidate in every one of the country’s ten provinces.
While Mugabe got the highest number of votes in Masvingo, 285 806 (36%), the number who chose not to vote, 368 496 (47%) is significantly very high meaning the majority saw no reason to vote for him and chose to stay at home on election day.
This constituency is there for Mujuru in as much as the 285 806 who voted for Mugabe can still be persuaded to dump the 91 year-old leader for Mujuru’s new party.
It might seem absurd to suggest that Mujuru can attract more than half of Mugabe’s 2 110 434 national vote in the 2013 election but it is very possible and the business example of the Apple iPhone is instructive.
Who could have thought, on June 29 2007 when the iPhone was launched, that the Nokia brand of phones was in for serious competition or potential demise?
Today, the iPhone and Samsung smart phones are the most sought after mobile phones ahead of Nokia which was, prior to June 2007, the best in the business.
But before its launch, did Steve Jobs have statistics on how many phones he would sell? Did he know that he was going to sell 35 million units of the first iPhone produced?
This is the same with political marketing. Mujuru is a brand that, if well packaged and sold to the Zimbabwean polity, can amass more than three million votes and her BUILD document has provided a Johari window through which the electorate can understand what she stands for and what she is offering the long suffering Zimbabwean citizen.
A Johari window is a psychological tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 and provides that individuals can build trust between themselves by disclosing information to others and learning about others from the information they in turn disclose about themselves.
By giving out her manifesto in form of the BUILD document, Mujuru has opened her heart for Zimbabweans to understand her before she formed her political party and the pay-off line at the bottom of every page on the 11-page document, “Let us BUILD Zimbabwe together” shows Mujuru’s belief in inclusive politics thus she implores Zimbabweans to join her in her quest to rebuild the country.
In other words, Mujuru has made it clear that the People First project is a people’s project which lives in their hearts, born of their long suffering and made resolute by “our fundamental premise that all people are created equal under God.”