With wealthy backers behind her, cautious Western interest and growing factionalism within Zanu-PF over the Mugabe succession, former VP Joice Mujuru's new Zimbabwe People First party may present a formidable challenge to the ruling party. By Tichaona Zindoga in Harare.
Zimbabwe's veteran leader, President Robert Mugabe has a new challenger.
Her name is Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru, a woman who until 2014 was the country's vice president and second secretary of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union --Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party for 10 years.
On the "Super Tuesday" of 1 March, she addressed her first press conference as leader of the newly-formed Zimbabwe People First party and immediately declared war on her former party and boss.
The entry of Joice Mujuru (60) into the political ring has been met with expectations of blood and thunder as Zimbabwe hurtles towards national elections in 2018.
Mujuru was expelled from the ruling party and government in 2014 when, after a flurry of accusations of her plotting to unseat President Mugabe ahead of the party's elective congress, she lost her position in the party's Central Committee and Politburo organs.
In April 2015, she was expelled from the ruling party.
Since then, she has maintained a stolid silence, refusing to speak to the media. Only two colleagues, Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa--both formerly Zanu-PF stalwarts who were expelled from Zanu-PF for associating with Mujuru--commented on her fall from grace.
But her silence was broken irregularly by statements in the private media on a couple of issues, mainly relating to her seeking to deflect accusations that were being leveled, or previously had been leveled against her.
It was in September last year that she came up with a meaningful political statement by way of a "manifesto" entitled, "Blueprint to Unlock Investment and Leverage for Development" (BUILD) which outlined the policy position and objectives of the then yet-to-be-named party.
Again, she kept her own counsel until breaking her silence in an interview with Voice of America's Studio 7. As the world was glued to the US "Super Tuesday" presidential primaries, Mujuru decided to strike.
She held her party's first press conference at Harare's five-star Miekles Hotel, a colonial relic, which immediately raised eyebrows on the political symbolism and messaging.
She was flanked by a number of former ruling party members. "Today is a historic day," she declared.
"Today we present ourselves to you in humility and the humbling comfort of the people's support. There has been tense speculation from our detractors. There has been strong anticipation from our supporters. We had to...