Mugabe backs new Zimbabwean opposition party

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A retired Zimbabwean general and acolyte of ex-president Robert Mugabe has formed a political party to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the polls later this year, the new grouping called the New Patriotic Front (NPF) party said on Monday.

Ambrose Mutinhiri, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war, quit the ruling ZANU-PF party and gave up his parliamentary seat last Friday, then met Mugabe on Sunday to brief him about the latest developments, an NPF statement said.

“President Mugabe congratulated Cde Mutinhiri for taking a bold move and said Zimbabwe needed men and women of principle who should fight to preserve the legacy of the liberation struggle “

Mugabe, 94, was forced to step down last November following a de facto military coup. Sources close to the former leader say he is bitter over his departure after 37 years in office and has given his support to the NFP party.

The NPF said it was formed by ZANU-PF members and Zimbabweans “outraged by the unconstitutional and humiliating manner in which President Mugabe was criminally ousted from leadership … by real criminals who have shamefully damaged Zimbabwe’s fledgling democracy”.

The divisions that have rocked the opposition since the death of veteran politician and former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai might indeed benefit the ruling ZANU – PF party.

On Sunday, Mnangagwa surprised many when he sent a congratulatory tweet to Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC- T) party upon his being endorsed as the opposition coalition candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

I would like to congratulate Nelson Chamisa as he takes over the leadership of the MDC. We look forward to a competitive, peaceful and positive election campaign, providing the people of Zimbabwe with a clear and democratic choice.

Chamisa is being challenged for the leadership of the MDC – T party by the vice president of the party Dr. Thokozani Khuphe who was elected to the position by the party’s congress in 2014.