Review & Mail Writers
United States based opposition leader, Maxwell Shumba says he founded the ZimFirst party, contrary to suggestions he took over presidency of the party from former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
“Zimbabwe People First (ZimFirst) started as a National Convergence platform in December 2014 when I wrote the national convergence concept to bring together all opposition forces. Although I had just stepped down as the MDC Chief Political Strategist and Advisor to the late Morgan Tsvangirai, I still felt strongly (call it a calling) that the Zimbabwean opposition could beat ZANU PF at the polls,” Shumba told Review & Mail.
Shumba said the late MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and Mujuru, through Dydimus Mutasa, had agreed to convergence concept and a National Task Force was put in place.
“The National Task Force had individuals who worked in Tsvangirai’s Office and others pulled from civil society but none from Mujuru’s team. Notable Task Force members included the late Dewa Mavhinga. Mujuru’s team only agreed in principle. In fact they had informed us that they were keen to pursue court cases to challenge their expulsion,” he said
He said a ZimFirst National Convergence was planned for 5 May 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa under the theme Fresh legs and Fresh Ideas, with all the participants referred to as Builders (Vavaki) or simply ZimFirsters.
“Unfortunately the Mujuru team failed to proceed and decided to prepare plans to launch a breakaway party. Around March 2015, Dydimus Mutasa approached me asking if I could join their grouping so that I could bring the People First from our national convergence name and them bringing ZANU to form ZANU People First (ZANU PF). I declined and told them that our efforts were meant to unite all opposition and did not want anything to do with ZANU.
“From thence all communication with that grouping stopped. We continued planning for the Convergence in earnest and with renewed hope that was spurred by the prospect of having fresh blood and unity. Unfortunately, someone within the MDC apparently scared that Tsvangirai could be replaced decided to leak the plans to the Herald which ran a front page story depicting our convergence plans as a plot to overthrow the Mugabe regime,” he said
This, he said, put paid to the plans for national convergence as the MDC allegedly disowned him.
“Very few people were left with the convergence and after 10 days of dealing with betrayal I asked those who had remained what do with the platform, giving them three options. To disband, continue with convergence efforts or convert into a political party.
“Over two days the convergence members deliberated and on 10 April 2015 they voted to convert the convergence platform into a political party which duly notified ZEC the following month. This is how ZimFirst was born,” he said.
Shumba added; “On 26 September 2015 ZimFirst officially launched in Murewa. From the ashes of national convergence efforts. Exactly a year later, March 2015, Joice Mujuru launched her party brazenly using our party’s name. Without shame of course and a few years later Morgan was to use the same national convergence concept he had helped to destroy to launch his MDC Alliance which had selected individuals and with an agreement that stipulated that he would be the unchallenged President of the alliance.
He said he had only included Mujuru in the national convergence plans, only for the former Vice President to invite some former ZANU PF members to the convergence and attempting to wrestle the party from him.
“She had others of her own, which is her right, but when she tried to use our party name maliciously we threatened her with a court action if she didn’t drop our party name, but I am told a few misguided individuals are still cling to it. We are alive to their presence and we will deal with at an appropriate time,” he said.