Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is apparently so concerned about the ugly fallout between Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) interim leader Joice Mujuru and the party's founding fathers, that he phoned one of these stalwarts on Wednesday - Didymus Mutasa - to express his disquiet about the damaging ructions.
But despite his disappointment with the turmoil engulfing ZPF, the Daily News understands that the former prime minister in the government of national unity has also given Mujuru some oxygen of sorts by re-affirming his commitment to working with her in the mooted grand opposition alliance, which is expected to be in place by the end of this year.
Mutasa confirmed yesterday that a concerned Tsvangirai had indeed enquired from him about the farcical ZPF events of Wednesday, in which Mujuru fired her top lieutenants, including Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo - who responded in kind by summarily sacking the former vice president from the fledgling party.
"Tsvangirai phoned me about what is happening and I told him that he should ask Mujuru," Mutasa said.
Tsvangirai's spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, also confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that his boss was very worried about the events unfolding within ZPF, but said there was "no turning back" on the opposition's planned coalition.
"We cannot comment on what is happening at a neighbour's house even if that neighbour is a friend, suffice to say that the president sees the developments as unfortunate.
"It is also unfortunate that it is the opposition that is attracting the negative publicity when the real culprit (Zanu-PF) is watching from the sidelines.
"But the decision to form a coalition has been made by the national assembly and we will stand by that," Tamborinyoka said.
In an unexpected bombshell that shook both the opposition movement and ordinary Zimbabweans alike, Mujuru on Wednesday morning announced that she had expelled the founding elders of the party Gumbo and Mutasa, together with five other party heavyweights - on account of them being alleged Zanu-PF agents and working to topple her from her interim position.
"Having done extensive consultation within the rank and file of the party and also in my capacity as the president with the executive authority to ensure its wellbeing, I hereby announce the expulsion of the following members from Zimbabwe People First with immediate effect: Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa, Margaret Dongo, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, Luckson Kandemiri, Munacho Mutezo and Claudious Makova," she said.
But no sooner had she completed her briefing than the situation turned into a complete farce, when Mutasa and Gumbo announced at their own press conference that they had similarly expelled Mujuru from ZPF.
Gumbo said Mujuru had "revealed to all and sundry" that she was incapable of leading an opposition party, and was therefore not fit to hold such an office.
"She has declared war on us and the die has been cast. We don't think that she is the right person to lead us. We no longer recognise her as the leader of People First," Gumbo said at the packed media event which was also attended by the other supposedly expelled members.
Weighing in, Mutasa said even though the elders were still to settle for her successor, one thing they were sure about was that they were "tired" of her style of leadership.
"We are not surprised by her irrational and emotional decision purporting to expel us. In fact, at the time she held her press conference, we were waiting for her at the party offices as she had told us that we should wait for her since she was at the Trauma Centre.
"She has no right to expel us. Mujuru was in fact appointed by us the founders of the party to lead the party as the interim president," Mutasa thundered in remarks that don't bode well for the still-to-properly-take-off party.
"An intelligent Mujuru would not have expelled VaGumbo and Mutasa. She has not got even a modicum of intelligence," Mutasa added mockingly.
But a defiant Mujuru said yesterday that the expulsion of the founding elders and five other officials was good riddance, as they were allegedly "damaged goods".
Her spokesperson Gift Nyandoro told the Daily News that they now felt that they no longer had damaged goods within their ranks and would thus be able to negotiate better with other political parties as they endeavoured to form the mooted grand coalition against Zanu-PF.
"Nothing has changed over the talks. ZPF remains focussed on the talks . . . Mujuru is the face of the party and she is the one who was given the mandate to engage all other progressive opposition leaders to ensure that we confront Zanu-PF as a united front," he said.
But as Nyandoro spoke, dozens of other party stalwarts were deserting the burning new kid on the political block yesterday, putting its future in doubt.
Amid the chaos, Mujuru has been working behind the scenes with Tsvangirai and other smaller opposition parties towards the formation of the planned grand coalition.
In addition, Zanu-PF apparatchiks have lately been working overtime to discredit Mujuru, in what observers have described as a desperate bid to scupper Tsvangirai's ongoing coalition talks with her.
Analysts have also consistently said that a united opposition, fighting with one purpose, would bring to an end Mugabe's long rule - especially at this time when the country's economy is dying and the increasingly frail nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu-PF united.
Since Mujuru joined hands with Tsvangirai and marched with him in the streets of Gweru in August last year - in a rare public display of unity among the opposition - there have been growing calls by fed up citizens for the formation of a grand opposition alliance.
Earlier this week, Tsvangirai said Mujuru had proved to be a significant opposition player - and that the two would work together with others to dethrone Mugabe and Zanu-PF from power next year.
Mujuru was expelled from Zanu-PF together with Gumbo and Mutasa in the run-up to the ruling party's sham "elective congress" in December 2014, on untested allegations of plotting to assassinate and topple Mugabe from power.
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