The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leadership of Tendai Biti has come out guns blazing against the Zimbabwe People First led by Joice Mujuru for recruiting members from within the ranks of his party, saying (ZPF) was no different from ZANU PF.
Biti was reacting to reports that in places like Zaka and Gutu, People’s First members were using dirty tactics like force and deception to lure PDP members into attending their party functions.
Some senior members of the PDP Masvingo executive have deserted the party and have closed ranks with the People First leadership in the province.
At a meeting with PDP members in Masvingo recently, Biti said a genuine opposition party must build from scratch rather than snatching members from other opposition parties.
“Taking members of other parties cannot build a party. You have to begin from the grassroots and present yourself to the electorate and tell them what you have to offer,” said Biti.
He said if People First is not persecuted by government, it will show they are not genuine opposition.
“Only if they are persecuted the way we have been persecuted will we know they are genuinely opposed to ZANU PF. Let them be denied the right to gather, let them also be beaten, abducted and arrested,” said Biti.
He echoed his Deputy Secretary General Tongai Matutu and National Chairperson Lucia Matibenga’s comments that the PDP will not partner with politicians with dubious history of violence.
“The big tent is not about helping one person to state house. We like a coalition of like-minded people who share the same principles with us,” said Biti.
Matutu and Matibenga had singled out former ZANU PF Bikita West MP and now one of the major proponents of the People First, Claudious Makova as an example of bad people to avoid.
“How do you expect us to work with Makova when we bear scars of a bloody campaign of violence he masterminded in Bikita West after our MP Mutongi died? Do we honestly believe these people have reformed simply because they have recently been ejected from the same system they so dearly served for that long,” queried Matibenga.
Makova has reportedly been sending emissaries to court PDP members in the province to join forces with his fledgling People First party. Senior members who have deserted the PDP for the People first include the vocal Jeffreyson Chitando, Heya Shoko, Dr William Zivenge and Ernest Mudavanhu among others.