Will Grace succeed husband?

HARARE - First Lady Grace Mugabe's formal endorsement to take over the leadership of the Zanu PF Women’s League, is widely viewed as a first step towards succeeding husband President Robert Mugabe if he decides to quit.

While some analysts say she is seeking political power for herself amid questions if she can strike out on her own as a political force, others say she has been thrust into that position as a strategic plan to ensure the interests of the First Family are not unduly disturbed or disrupted once her 90-year-old husband is gone.

Insiders fear she is converting  her clout into a personal political power base, possibly eyeing the presidency although some see this as a long shot. 

The First Lady helped fire up an overflow crowd that nominated her at her 49th ?birthday” party at her farm in Mazowe on Friday. She was serenaded by throngs of supporters in her northern stronghold.

The event came slightly less than a month from the Women?s League elective congress in August.

Responding to the shrewd nomination by the current Women’s League boss, Oppah Muchinguri, backed by Senate president Edna Madzongwe, the First Lady said she would consider the nomination.

“Asi munoziva kana uchinyengwa ka haungangoti ehe (As you know when you are being courted, you just don?t consent easily),” she said.

Her remarks were comparatively civil in a race that’s become associated with constant mudslinging between rival factions, with both the Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa sides accusing the other of peddling outrageous falsehoods and painting each other as being unfit to run for high office.

Insiders say her nomination was from the Mnangagwa faction via Muchinguri, which is manoeuvring to elbow the rival Mujuru faction and prevent it from unseating Mugabe from power.

The Daily News on Sunday has been told that the Mnangagwa faction decided on the Grace plot to unsettle Mujuru’s seemingly unstoppable ascendency to power.

Mujuru did not attend the First Lady's birthday party.

University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said it was a momentous development, which will likely reconfigure lines of factionalism in Zanu PF.

Masunungure said she has not taken power for herself.

?She has been given power on a silver platter,” Masunungure told the Daily News on Sunday.

?She does not qualify for that position given the stringent rules the party has set for itself. It may be part of the dynamics that she wants to be closer considering that the president might not hang around for much longer and if he does, he will not have the stamina to continue to rule.

?If you have a member of the household in the highest echelons, the interests of the household are also shielded from undue attack.”

The flamboyant matriarch has become the symbol of excess during the 34-year regime of her husband, who has also been accused of economic mismanagement and whose rule is marked by accusations of human rights abuses.

While many Zimbabweans live in poverty, the First Lady became known for her lavish spending, although she has recently embarked on a number of philanthropic projects. As she advances in age, she has also cut back on travel to world famous destinations in the Far East to buy expensive fashions, high-end jewellery and other luxury items.

Masunungure said her position was part of a strategic plan to ensure the interests of the First Family are not unduly disturbed or disrupted.

?It speaks to continuity of the Gushungo clan,” he said, referring to Mugabe?s totem. ?We may be seeing the beginning of the Gushungo dynasty.”

However, Masunungure, like other analysts, doubts if Grace will take over as president, although her new post gives her a wide berth to be in the powerful Politburo.

?She will be there to shield the interests of the household now or in the future,” he told the Daily News on Sunday.

?The game plan is to ensure that there is someone who is at the apex of the party.”

Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, said he doubts that Grace could sustain a role as an independent political force.

?This is not to say she could not be influential in Zimbabwean politics,” Chan said.

?In any case, it should be understood that, in many countries, first ladies play political roles: Hilary Clinton was the prime American example during her husband?s presidency.”

Critics say she wields power over her husband behind the scenes, and has become a distinct centre of power in Zanu PF that could play the role of kingmaker.

Phillip Pasirayi, an Oxford scholar and international development policy expert, said the First Lady was seeking power not for herself but to protect the economic and political interests of the Mugabes.

?Her elevation shows that there is a group within Zanu PF that is pushing for early retirement of President Mugabe and the wife is being thrust at the helm of the powerful Women’s League to stop this momentum,” Pasirayi said.

?But Mai Mugabe will face some challenges in surviving the power games in Zanu PF. For starters, the First Lady lacks political clout and does not have liberation credentials which are key factors in Zanu PF’s succession politics.

?She does not have a thick skin needed to survive the murky politics in Zanu PF. The fact that she lacks liberation credentials will mean that she will not be taken too serious by some hawks within the party.

“It might be that those people like Oppah Muchinguri who are backing her to take over the Women’s League are doing it for strategic reasons. They want to stop the momentum of the Mujuru faction. They also want to endear themselves to the First Lady whom they think is the one who is now making most of the decisions considering that her husband is too old, sickly and tired.”

In her role as First Lady, Grace has met a diverse mix of world leaders, and is now seeking out political opportunities for herself in addition to supporting her spouse, analysts say.

Comments (23)

Grace Mugabe should be the one reining in her husband like some wives do when their husbands stray. Muammar Gaddafi's family is suffering now because the wife did not rein in her husband when he was overdoing the politics. Grace is heaping praise on her husband showing she is also out of touch with reality. My wife tells me off if I get out of line. They will say “Ko asi munomborasikirwa ne pfungwa here dzimwe nguva kuita se pwere” or “Zvamakuita baba vevana zvinenge zve munhu asina kufunda” and such like comments. Mugabe's wife said “The MDC-T's electoral loss was God's punishment for the arrogance displayed by the party's leaders” - this clearly shows a person who is very ignorant. Does she surely not know that ZanuPF led by her husband stole the election? The person who should be punished by God is her husband over his arrogance over the Gukurahundi massacres. Grace has got a selective memory. She said she has lived with Mugabe for decades but has failed to understand his strong character, adding the veteran president was an incorruptible leader who put his people's wishes ahead of his own! She is far too young and naïve to understand Mugabe. Mugabe is power-crazy. His first love is power. Grace pretends not to understand what corruption is. She says Mugabe “puts people's wishes ahead of his own” - utter garbage. It's as if we requested him to enter into politics and “save us” from some monster - we did not. Mugabe entered into politics because he was power-hungry, full stop. None is so expansive as Mugabe in the self-importance sense. Mugabe has, and continues to make our lives, worse than when he started. He has failed dismally but will not resign. He has even warned those in his party not to make any attempts to try succeed him because there is no vacancy.

Musona - 27 July 2014

One sentence should read, "My wife will say “Ko asi munomborasikirwa ne pfungwa here dzimwe nguva kuita se pwere” or “Zvamakuita baba vevana zvinenge zve munhu asina kufunda” and such like comments".

Musona - 27 July 2014

Imi mkuru madii kuturayawo on leadership. What is wrong with this lady becoming a politician. We need not criticise for the sake of it. Let her apsire to be what she wants to be. Imi munoratidza kuti munoda kutongwa nevarungu pls carry on with your ambition. I respect your choice even though i do not agree with you. I feel its you basic right to express you opinion(s).

taurai - 27 July 2014

Mugabe haana kupusa, kuita Grace President anenge afongorera museve. Grace President nokuvhura kwaanoita makumbo, RGM angatofe nestress, Vese vanaMakamba vanotozodzoka vakananga ku state house vasina kana kupfeka nduwe. Grace ihure remakoko, kana rakambofongoreswa mu office wozoti ava President mvura hainayi,

Reason Maziwise - 27 July 2014

@taurai - you fool. Can you pick out a sentence where I have stated that Grace Mugabe should not aspire to leadership? I have no power to stop anyone from running for leadership. But I criticise and will criticise inept leadership. I always compare the present leadership with the past white leadership because it is the same country with the same climate. That is, comparing apples with apples. I cannot compare the present leadership in Zimbabwe with the leadership in USA, or China or Zambia because the circumstances and countries are totally different. You might not like this but this will not stop me comparing past white rule and present Mugabe rule. And I have no hesitation in saying in capital letters to emphasise - WE WERE A BILLION TIMES BETTER OFF UNDER WHITE RULE. I am not going to praise the present black leadership just because it is black. Why should I do that? It does not make sense to praise someone when they are useless just because they have the same skin as me. The reason why this country is in a mess is because people heap praise on useless politicians. After Smith it was always going to be downward spiral. That is my touchstone. You are trying to silence me so that I support what YOU like. That will not happen. I do not want you to agree with me. I am not looking for support or any favours from anyone - I just want to put the record straight. I old enough to know what is right and what is wrong: what works and what doesn't. My attitude is - why hanker to govern when you are not going to be equal or better than the white governments? We want to improve for the better not for the worse or worst.

Musona - 27 July 2014

One sentence should read, "I am old enough to know what is right and what is wrong: what works and what doesn't."

Musona - 27 July 2014

sorry mkuru. iyi inonzi zimbabwe haidzokere shure. garai ikoko kuma19 chakuti. isu tiri kufunga zvirimberi. pain yes we de feel today but tomorrow is another day. sorry mkuru ana bass boy venyu vave history. vaiita share nemi economy isu tiri kumaTTL tichitamba nhamo.

taurai - 27 July 2014

Grace has the right to her ambitions and all democrats will support that right. In this instance though, she wants to use that right to protect herself and her little empire from the people whom she has abused all under the disguise of serving them. Her promoters are of the same mind and nominated her out of the fear of having to account to the people whose dignity they have trampled under their boots of immorality , nepotism and greed.

Abri - 27 July 2014

so people did not see that coming. you thot robert was not discussing who was going to succeed him. he was in his bedroom. poor zanu and zimbos. there is nothing wrong with grace's ambition, but just imagine its now going to be mugabe forever. why because zanus and zimbos are no thinkers at all and mugabe knows how to use this well. as always said if people dont turn to God and ask for his help, the mugabe demon will be with us for a long time. by the way Grace knows very well how much God is not happy about her doings and that is why now and then she tries to say God. but to me thats only lip service as John the baptist once demanded.

see - 28 July 2014

In my own opinion, life was at it's best for the first five or so years after Independance after Mugabe's famous speech on reconciliation where everyone black and white were now working together to build the nation in solidarity and everyone was given the respect they deserve.Secondary schools were built, more so in rural areas, clinics were set up, DDF was there to open up roads to places that were not reachable before, older people that had missed out on education were encouraged to attend night schools and many benefited immensely.Corruption had not metastasised into this ugly virus we are witnessing now in government. Grace only wants to protect her ill gotten wealth.

Dr Know - 28 July 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 28 July 2014

Taurai please!! Hatidye izvozvo isu. I support Musona in this ONE because its not a colour thing, but and execution one kudzokera shure no asi it takes a greate man to admit that he has failed or simply admit that his time is up and make room for the next generation of leaders. Grace well done but after your husband taneta nemhuru yenyu ruling. we want a different thing. Had there been an iota of care in the way Gushungo ran this country we would consider but the mere fact that its one man for himself and God for us all in this country NO NO NO NO NO YOU ARE NOT GETTING MY VOTE.

critic - 28 July 2014

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wq - 28 July 2014

Grace can do much better than her husband that is for sure. Even Mugabe's body guard can do much better than Mugabe. Mugabe haana chaanoziva. He is just a loud mouth. Mugabe is the current holder of the world's record rate on inflation. That will surely take some beating. Chinondisekesa kunzwa kuri “Mugabe puts people's wishes ahead of his own” - ko akamanikidzwa here kupinda mu politics? Hatina kumbo mukumbira kuti apinde mu politics. He made a choice that he wanted to be in politics. I only knew Mugabe in 1960 when he and others like Nkomo, Takawira, Nyandoro et al addressed an NDP meeting at Cyril Jennings Hall on a boxing stage. Party youths went around door-to-door ordering us that there was a meeting at the Hall one Sunday morning. These politicians wanted power. We did not ask them to rescue us - we were quite fine. If they had not invited us to the meeting we still could have carried on with our lives in peace. First they were talking of one-man-one vote and started confusing people about equal rights. I had no problem with one-man-one-vote at the time but “equal rights” did not make any sense at all because as far as I could make out what made us blacks feel unequal, if you like, was that we were poor and whites were rich and were able to do most things which we couldn't do because of poverty. We were all employees of these whites, living in rented house built by these whites. I thought to myself and we discussed with close friends whether these politicians were actually saying whites should print money and dish it out to all of us blacks? I am sure some felt this was going to happen once a black person was in charge. Now we are being told only those who skipped the borders illegally in the 1970s must govern and are the first class citizens! Grace did no skip the border in the 1970s does she qualify to lead?

Musona - 28 July 2014

Zimbabwe handi Zvimba? saka dzinza rekwamudhara rikapera Zimbabwe yapera...

Chidondova - 28 July 2014

Nyika yava musona yakasiyana neyandakakurira. Isu taive varombo vekufuga dehwe rembudzi. Taidya chingwa chinejam kamwechete pachristmas baba vadzoka kubva Salisbury kwavaishanda paMashonaland Tobbacco company. Fanta taiinwa kamwe if that was possible pagore. Nyama yataidya yaive yematumbu kanatato iwana otherwise taidya mombe yainge yazvifira yoga. We really do not need to wish for the english man to come back and treat us the way he did. Their children did not earn status they where born bosses 'pikinini basa boy'. But then, what did Mugabe achieve for us. To be honest, i would argue that Mugabe and his lieutenants setout to fight and conquer the minority rule and that he delivered. Do we then throw that achievement out through the window beause of nzara? No- in my view, that becomes our starting point. We have to look forward starting from what we have achieved and so that collectively we can aspire to conquer poverty. Poor we are and moerso will we remain if we go back on our earlier successes. I reain positive in spite of zhara iri kundirwadza.

taurai - 28 July 2014

Is this the same Grace who had newly resettled villagers evicted from the same Mazowe area to make way for her game park?

Johno - 28 July 2014

Hamusati.....

Gudo guru - 28 July 2014

Just imagine "Don't tek foto" being president of the diesel oozing from the rock country.....oh finish. It pains me that she honestly tells us that her husband really puts the interests of Zimbabweans before his. The old man is the most selfish person I've ever known besides the devil. He doesn't care about Zimbabwe, ZANU PF nor his family but himself.

Car Door Tea Car Core - 29 July 2014

MATAKANYANYA CHAIWO. DOFO RAKAITA SA (DIS)GRACE KUITA PRESIDENT. THINGS FALL APART!

Topi Topindepi - 29 July 2014

Ko vakuru vane ma Degree 6 wakaiteyi? Grace Pamwe anoto tonga zvakanaka. Vese varikutonga vane ma Degree nema Fake Doctorates vari kuyiteyi. Zimbabwe yaparara vahnu vari kunwa mbvura ine madodi.

Godfrey Sibanda - 30 July 2014

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