Grace in charge — Analysts

HARARE - Analysts say there is a real danger that Zanu PF hardliners are manipulating First Lady Grace Mugabe knowing fully well that she now wielded undue influence on President Robert Mugabe.

In interviews with the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, the analysts said all indications were that Grace was now effectively running Zimbabwe and increasingly instructing Mugabe (90) what to do and who to appoint to important national offices.

This sentiment was made as Mugabe himself has also recently publicly intimated that he is often instructed what to do by Grace.

Speaking at Zanu PF’s damp squib “elective” congress in Harare last week, the president meekly admitted to the party’s 12 000 delegates that the First Lady tended to direct him on what to say and do, be it at home or while on official engagements.

This was after Grace was seen furiously advising the nonagenarian what to say, even going to the extent of ordering him to sit down at some point because Mugabe was allegedly talking too much.

The analysts who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday said the fact that Mugabe had seemingly now carried through all of the commands and threats that Grace had pronounced on in the past few months, almost to the letter, meant that the First Lady now wielded undue influence on her aged husband.

However, they said, there was a danger that a coterie of hardliners within Zanu PF were in turn expediently “manipulating” Grace behind the scenes so that she could then instruct her husband what to do, which suited their agendas.

One of the analysts said Grace had “officially joined the powerful club of presidents’ wives” around the world who usurped power from their ageing husbands.

“In recent months, since her headlong plunge into politics, the First Lady, just like Mao’s Jiang Qing, who is also affectionately referred to as Madame Mao, is virtually in control and has forced Mugabe to fire (former Vice President) Joice Mujuru and her allies and also had a strong hand in the new Cabinet sworn in on Friday.

“Ironically, Madam Mao and Grace both started as personal assistants to their future husbands, and when their better halves began to lose grip on power, they have both stepped up to the plate and unofficially taken over,” he said.

At 90, Mugabe’s grip on power is on the decline just like Mao in the late 1960s. Mao suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, rendering him weaker and weaker not only physically but politically as well.

When Mao lay on his death bed, Jiang was appointed the director of the Central Cultural Revolution Group in 1966 and she exercised absolute power in China together with her so-called “Gang of Four”, namely, Zhang Chuqiao , Wang Hangwen, Yao Wenyuan and Jiangqing.

The notorious clique terrorised real and perceived enemies, with the resultant death toll hitting an estimated 500 000 people from 1966 to 1969. Many fled into exile, including Deng Xiaoping, Mao’s arch-rival.

Similarly, American First Lady Edith Wilson, wife to Woodrow Wilson, secretly and unofficially in October 1919 and for some weeks afterwards, ran the US government following her husband’s life-changing stroke.

More recently, the former First Lady of Zambia, Christine Sata, temporarily commandeered presidential powers in October after her husband was indisposed by poor health.

“Likewise, Grace has, in my opinion, also taken over the running of Zimbabwe from Mugabe, who is slowly losing grip due to advanced age and deteriorating health associated with old age,” an analyst who requested anonymity said.

In October, Grace toured Zimbabwe declaring that Mujuru and her people would be “baby dumped”.

And rightly so, Mujuru and other party heavyweights such as Didymus Mutasa, Nicholas Goche and Webster Shamu have all been dumped unceremoniously, amid accusations that they were plotting to oust and assassinate the nonagenarian.

In addition, nine Zanu PF provincial chairpersons linked to Mujuru, as well as many other party officials and Cabinet ministers have been removed from office, after they crossed Grace’s path.

Eldred Masunungure, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist, said the First Lady unofficially took over the running of Zimbabwe a long time ago although this had only come into the public domain recently.

“It is not a new development. It has been obtaining all this while but it became visible recently.

“Anyone can tell that even in 2004 she was the one in charge. She said she is the one who put the former VP in that post. While in 2004 it was covered up, now it has come out in the open.

“First ladies and wives of sitting presidents generally have immense influence on the running of a country. They are the powers behind the throne especially when a president is of advanced age and his health is fragile,” Masunungure said.

Alex Magaisa, a Kent University law lecturer in the UK, described Grace as the “proverbial King maker” who oversaw the annihilation of the Mujuru faction.

“I think there is a strong case to be made for the view that she now has enormous influence in our politics and that she has become something of the proverbial ‘kingmaker’. She led the offensive against Mujuru and it was very personal.

“She demanded that she resigns or be ‘baby-dumped’ and this has happened. She warned (Ray) Kaukonde and told the whole world that she had a personal grudge against him and he too is gone.

“Many others have followed. President Mugabe himself confirmed as much although his point came out as a joke.

“The irony was that the disclosure came out as he was being told by his wife to leave the podium. It is evident that he is now being managed and that the younger wife is using her proximity to influence things,” Magaisa said.

Maxwell Saungweme, another political analyst, said the First Lady was capitalising on her husband’s faltering grip on power due to advanced age, to unofficially run the state.

“We are going to witness more drama with Grace being the main actor. Zimbabwe is now effectively run by Grace from their bedroom,” Saungweme said.

But Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said Mugabe was firmly in control and that he was using his wife to do his dirty things for him.

“Grace Mugabe’s political clout and influence should not be over-exaggerated simply because she took an active public role in insulting former VP Mujuru who had fallen out of political favour with Mugabe,” he said.

Mavhinga said that the first lady’s onslaught on Mujuru and her faction did not mean she was in charge.

“But this does not mean Grace Mugabe is a centrepiece of the winning faction, she is only relevant as long as Mugabe is by her side, otherwise her true political pedigree or lack thereof will only be truly known when Mugabe is off the political stage,” Mavhinga said.

“However it is safe now to conclude that Grace Mugabe’s few months in the political limelight have exposed her as lacking in social wisdom given the way she dwelt on rumours and dished out uncouth insults to senior political leaders.”

Comments (26)

Newsday finds it ok if the paper trashes national leaders. Why then should Grace Mugabe, also a Zimbabwean citizen not shout against corruption by national leaders? Is this reserved for journalists only, who trash leaders everyday left right and centre? Grace is simple joining the Daily News in "telling it like it is".

machakachaka - 14 December 2014

DisGrace Pamiri is a deadbeat opportunist. Few people hoodwink the chief Sheik, but mattress exercises and testing sometimes softens the brains. The are too many hungry Zanu pf wolves sniffing near the throne. After the hero gets submerged in concrete, this broomstick pilot will be lynched and gobbled up. The alleged children will need to be DNA tested for paternity purposes. Meanwhile Zimbabwe will continue to implode - largely due to the criminality, greed, crass stupidilty, ignorance and incompetence of the indigenous populace.

Ignoramus Mubobobo - 14 December 2014

Talk of Gideon Gono been a good boy to Grace the bottom line is that she is finding some sexual favours from Gono...it's obvious. Poor Grace is being used by the ever quiet Mnangagwa..finish. Time will tell.

Garikayi - 14 December 2014

The hyenas fight among themselves, and Zimbabwe continues to stagger.

david taylor - 14 December 2014

Why should Zimbabwe's Army Generals attend a private party to celebrate the elevation of parrot Mnangagwa to Mugabe's deputy or why the Attorney should attend this party when they are supposed to be apolitical? What have the useless opposition MDCs have to say about this? Useless opposition. These army Generals also attended the anti-Mujuru ZanuPF Congress when they are supposed to be apolitical. You would expect the opposition to kick up a big fuss but, No, they are fast asleep.

Musona - 14 December 2014

Zimbabwe is now being run from under Grace's peticoat demity .

Diibulaanyika - 14 December 2014

there is no opposition as yet in zimbabwe. mdc t is actualy helpful to zanu pf. that is the kind of opposition they want. one with a leader who sleeps on the job. in any casy sleeping is save's hoppy. lets hope with time we will start to witness real opposition and real competition not what we have as of now.

zvirozviyedzwa - 14 December 2014

Musona the opposition party includes you and this mentality by Zimbabweans that some people have to do the hard work on their behalf is the one which taken Zimbabwe to where it is now.

marange son - 14 December 2014

Munangagwa is celebrating being president of this country that is what i think .No sane person can celebrate being number 2.But that is too ambitious it is like a story i was told long ago by a gogo a poacher found a kudu caught in a snare but it was not dead . So this poacher sat down started thanking his mizi or amandlozi and then stood up and went to the animal so that he could finish it off but alas the snare snapped and the kudu ran for its dear life . Come next elections Munangagwa will be dumped by voters and he will be humiliated .

Diibulaanyika - 14 December 2014

Tanga tanzwa nekungoti "Pasi ne MDC." Kana chiri chokwadi kuti wa Mugabe wakati " Pasi ne ZanuPF" Ini ndawe kutiwo "Pasi ne ZanuPF and Pasi ne MDC".

Sekuru Ndaronga - 14 December 2014

Gullible, ignorant, greedy and myopic as Grace thinks, she might daydream wrongly thinking that now she has Zim under her control. She'll soon pay dearly as what happened in China after Chairman Mao died. Soon, just soon Grace will be weeping and sobbing without anybody to help her out.

Nkwazi Mhango - 15 December 2014

We have tried and tested natural herbs from Malawi with no side effects for penis enlargement within seven days, immune system buster, hormonal imbalance, diabetis, prolonged ejaculation,stis, fibroids and many more. for free advice and deliveries please call 0737286007 Now.100% money back guaranteed if fails to produce desired results

dr - 15 December 2014

Personally i prefer Grace to be in charge rather than the dull and clueless chematama who this paper wanted to be in charge, and the people rejected him. Grace , if in charge, just like any other Zimbabwean, its because of her cleverness, period.

reason - 15 December 2014

Grace is certainly powerful, but only when Mugabe is still alive. If Mugabe goes - I wouldn't be surprised to see a horrible turn of events against her and they will be so bitter that she would wish she was dead. She handled her political enemies without the expertise that diplomacy or humane social science would dictate - and may be made to pay for that in the near future. What the majority of people have been sounding a bit afraid that she may be uncouth is exactly what she proved she is and that is very dangerous, especially in a nation that is crying out loud for change and is blocked and have their country run by an illegitimate structure, which she happens to be part of. That is why it is always right to be democratic and transparent so that you have nothing to fear whatsoever.

clement moyo - 15 December 2014

Professional Consultancy: Tax clearances, company registrations, shelf companies, CR14, company profiles/business plans, VAT registrations, Vendor Number registrations, SPB (tender board) registration, Accounting and Bookeeping. 0771 419 294

Global Cons - 15 December 2014

FOR SALE HP TONER CARTRIDGES 05A,10A,11A,12A,13A,15A,24A,35A,36A,42A,49A,51A,53A,55A,61A,64A,70A,78A,80A,83A,85A,96A,125A,135A, AND MANYMORE 0772 678 311

GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 15 December 2014

Grace in charge? My foot! Grace clever?? Only time will be the judge..... I wish a new kind of leader and a new government of national unity so we can smoke the peace pipe

Nduna - 15 December 2014

..............'.Come next elections Munangagwa will be dumped by voters and he will be humiliated .' My friend Diibulaanyika, in Zimbabwe the electorate has no say. What Zanu Pf wants is what goes. With Mnangagwa as President most of you will surely see Mugabe as having been a Saint. You ain;t seen nothing yet Zimbabwe is yet to see the worst. Tho monster Mnangagwa is ruthless.

Correct Forecast - 15 December 2014

yasvika nguva yekukwira grace

Harare - 15 December 2014

Mnangagwa mupei nguva aratidze zvaari kwete kuita zvekufungira,i think he is also capable and has learnt some lessons ,lets we not judge him,maybe he can change things for the better kwete zvema 10% zvangazvoitwa.

sinyoro - 15 December 2014

Mnangagwa mupei nguva aratidze zvaari kwete kuita zvekufungira,i think he is also capable and has learnt some lessons ,lets we not judge him,maybe he can change things for the better kwete zvema 10% zvangazvoitwa.

sinyoro - 15 December 2014

We are for a very interesting piece of crime drama. Grace and the crocodile cannot live in the same den. Let's pray no innocent person gets involved in this drama of elimination of one mafia boss by another.

Abri - 15 December 2014

Just like any person a democratic Grace have the right to be in politics all those who were fired were not meant to rule zimbabwe forever they deserve the chop why cry foul

m.CHISHAMBA - 16 December 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.