Mzembi party pledges ‘fair and just society’

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Former tourism and foreign minister Walter Mzembi will lead a new party which says it will contest future elections.

The People’s Party said it notified the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of its existence in November last year, but just recently appointed its interim leadership.

Mzembi – currently living in exile in South Africa – will lead the new party deputised by Lloyd Msipa, a lawyer based in the United Kingdom.

Godfrey Gandawa, a former deputy minister for higher education also now living in exile following the collapse of Robert Mugabe’s government in November 2017, is the secretary general of the new party.

“We are a political party that believes Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it. The mission of the People’s Party is to establish for the first time in our history, a fair and just society which will enable the people of Zimbabwe to unleash their talents and ingenuity so that their potential can be fully realised,” Msipa said.

Msipa said they moved to form the new party out of “exasperation with the stalemate between the two main parties in Zimbabwe, Zanu PF and the MDC.”

The People’s Party, Msipa said, was an “agent of regeneration of our politics”.

He said they would mobilise the Zimbabwean diaspora to be actively engaged with the politics of the country, adding: “The Zanu PF government is conscious of the potent force politically that the diaspora can become.”

Meanwhile, another political party, the Zimbabwe People’s Party, has written to Mzembi to complain about the “use of part of our name”.

“We take this to be poor political practice which will definitely affect voters in any future election that our party (ZPP) and your party (PP) will participate in,” the Zimbabwe People’s Party said.

A newly formed political outfit, the Zimbabwe People’s Party (ZPP) has written to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) complaining against fugitive and former Cabinet Minister Walter Mzembi and his followers over the use of the name of their newly formed political party, People’s Party.

Mzembi who is believed to be hiding in South Africa from standing trial on theft of trust property charges formed a political party this week.

Allegations against Mzembi, who has been issued with a warrant of arrest, arose during the time when he was a Cabinet Minister.

In a letter addressed to the ZEC’s chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, ZPP said they were concerned and wants Mzembi and his followers to change their party’s name.

“We note with concern the use of part of our name by your political formation which you and your team decided to call People’s Party (PP).

“We take this to be poor political practice which will definitely affect the voters in any future election that our party ZPP and your new party PP will participate in future. Use of similar names, logo colours and letterhead concerns as you and your team adopted is not the best way to go in politics especially when you want voters to have clear choices of candidates in a ballot paper,” reads part of the letter.

ZPP was registered as a political party last year in June, while PP led by Mzembi was formed this week and is yet to be registered in Zimbabwe.

“We note that our party ZPP entered Zimbabwe’s political scene in June 2019, while your party PP entered the scene in November 2019. I also note that our party, ZPP completed ZEC notification in October 2019 before your formation came into being,”.

ZPP raised an alarm of Mzembi’s capability of leading a political outfit without thorough research.

“We note that before forming our party ZPP we took our time as founders and directors to do a thorough search physically in books and all media both social and formal for any name that would have been close to ours.

“As a party which is serious about change in Zimbabwe, we felt it was within good political practice to ensure the voters are not put at risk of confusion due to similar names that are close to one another and also logo colours that come close to one another.

“It’s that kind of search which we thought you and your team would have done to ensure that we comply with globally acceptable and honest political practices. We also think that had you done a careful search you would have been able to see that you were taking a name and colours that were close to ours,”

It never rains but pours for Mzembi since his party is yet to notify the regulating election board, ZEC.

ZEC chief election officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana said that the newly formed opposition party PP is yet to register with ZEC.

“Whoever forms a political party in Zimbabwe, they have to notify us. We are yet to be notified by Mzembi and his team,’’ said Mr Silaigwana.

The ZPP director of Communication and Publicity Jaison Midzi raised concern over the lack of innovation by Mzembi and his team.

“Innovation starts from even the name one decides to use and being careful the names and regalia show how serious one is especially in our Zimbabwean context where a lot is needed to develop the country and not being through the name searches and not being aware of what around us as likely in your case may not be beneficial to the people of Zimbabwe whom we purport to be coming to represent.

“With your political experience of having served in Mr Robert Mugabe ‘s administration as both Tourism Minister and Foreign Affairs minister, I think the citizens of Zimbabwe would have been happy with some name that does not come so close to that of the ZPP,” said Mr Midzi.

While you are entitled to use the name PP, Mr Midzi said ZPP were not expecting such a name which will disturb and confuse voters.

“If you are still to notify ZEC of your existence, we would be happy if you consider looking for a name that will not be close to ZPP because that is not good for voters.

“If you have completed your ZEC notification, we are also hereby informing you that your move was not in the best interest of the voters for it will lead to confusion on the ballot paper.  The oversight you and your team displayed in careful and thorough name search is also a learning process for other people who may want to form political parties to do so with diligence. If you use the name PP was international to affect us, then that was also not a good move because the people we represent should be coming first and respecting other     institutions is of paramount significance in modern political practice,” added Mr Midzi.