Mugabe takes unusual step

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe was on Thursday forced to take the unusual step of announcing to the world that he was still in charge of both the ruling Zanu PF and government, following months of frenzied speculation regarding the alleged undue influence that controversial First Lady, Grace, now had on him.

But instead of dousing the speculation, Mugabe’s attempt at asserting his authority appeared to feed the widespread belief that Grace is now firmly in charge of Zimbabwe — with most social media chatter in fact suggesting that the nonagenarian’s unusual move had allegedly only served to confirm the speculation.

The nonagenarian had himself ventilated the speculation late last year when he openly admitted to the ruling party’s disputed damp squib “elective” congress that was held in Harare that his wife often decided what he did.

Besides Mugabe’s own admission, former Presidential Affairs minister, Didymus Mutasa — once a close confidante to the nonagenarian for decades — also asserted recently that Grace was now in charge of Zanu PF and the government.

Since the first lady officially joined politics late last year, she has shaken Zanu PF to  its core, brutally instigating the dismissal from both party and government office former vice president Joice Mujuru, as well as other bigwigs such as Mutasa and a host of other fallen heavyweights.

Mutasa’s recent purported expulsion from Zanu PF did not also do Mugabe any favours, as it was announced only after Grace came back from her State-funded two month holiday in the Far East.

Thus, faced with growing criticism even from within Zanu PF that Grace now appeared to wield too much influence in the country, Mugabe probably felt pressurised to downplay the first lady’s influence, during his choreographed interview with the ZBC on Thursday to mark his 91st birthday.

“She isn’t the power behind my throne; she has come into politics in her own right.  She has just appeared on behalf of the women and the women asked her to go around addressing people and she agreed and went round, that’s all she did.

“Why should they think that because of what she has done she is now the power? She hasn’t come yet into the real part of things. She has just attended one Politburo meeting, which she didn’t attend fully because she is not yet strong.

“Because of the dynamism with which she came out, it started giving people ideas with some saying she is now the power behind the party, she is now running what the President is doing. But we have the machinery of the party, we discuss, we decide and now that we have two vice presidents we share ideas,” Mugabe said.

He also claimed further that he never influenced any member of his family to join politics.

“I’ve never sanctioned anyone, even my sisters, I used to tell them if you want politics don’t say I sent you,” he said. “I will not push anyone. She came to me and said the women want me to lead them and I said it’s up to you.”

Grace raised further eyebrows last week when she occupied one of the front seats reserved for the party’s top hierarchy during her maiden politburo meeting.

And to further underline her power in Zanu PF, Shuvai Mahofa, one of her most ardent followers, was this week appointed the new Masvingo provincial minister, taking over from the fired Kudakwashe Bhasikiti.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa also added his voice last week to those of other prominent Zanu PF figures who have accused Grace of being the lynchpin of the ongoing brutal purges of party officials perceived to be close to Mujuru.

In an unusually forthright interview with State media, the normally cagey Mnangagwa said he was not part of the group of party hardliners who had plotted the ouster of Mujuru and others linked to her.

He added candidly that until mid-last year, all had been set for the former VP to be confirmed in her position at Zanu PF’s December congress, until the controversial first lady entered the political fray.

“Until Amai Mugabe began those rallies, I think everybody was accepting that when we go to Congress, Mai Mujuru will be confirmed as Vice-President.

“The area we had doubt as to who was going to come (as the other VP) was that of the Zapu element. We didn’t know who was going to come.

“But then when the First Lady began doing those rallies and revelations which were now coming out; we were taken by storm and this was done within a period of less than four weeks, five weeks, thereabouts,” Mnangagwa said.

When Mutasa was expelled from Zanu PF he said he expected that to happen due to the influence of the First Lady.

“Yes. I expected it (his purported expulsion). They said so a long time ago.

“They were waiting for the first lady. Now she is back and they have shown where the centre of their power is.” When she returned from medical treatment two weeks ago, Zanu PF youths openly said that  when she away, nothing was moving suggesting that Mugabe was now powerless as his wife was now calling the shots.

Mutasa’s comments followed those made by former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda late last year, who was quoted saying, “I am not going to allow any coup both in the boardroom and in the bedroom” at the height of the Grace-fronted anarchy that is still devouring Zanu PF.

So biting and resonant with ordinary Zimbabweans was that quote that it ultimately contributed to authorities dragging the popular war veteran to court where he is facing charges of insulting or undermining Mugabe’s authority.

Grace also demonstrated the immense power she now wields within Zimbabwe’s body politic when Cabinet ministers, service chiefs and Zanu PF bigwigs scrambled to Harare International Airport to welcome her back to the country three weeks ago after she had been away in the Far East for more than two months.

Observers said the fact that these bigwigs had felt compelled to converge at the airport together with hundreds of ruling party supporters to welcome her back to Zimbabwe in the manner they did spoke volumes about how much political power she now wielded in the country.

There was so much pomp and ceremony as she arrived back in the country on the day that one senior Zanu PF official who spoke to the Daily News described her welcome as “fitting for a Queen”.

“She (Grace) is now probably the most powerful politician in Zimbabwe, which is why her welcome back to the country today almost rivalled the treatment that the president gets when he returns from his trips abroad.

“To not go and pay homage to Amai at the moment amounts to virtual political suicide and everyone knows this. Her welcome was fitting for a Queen,” the central committee member, who requested anonymity, said.

Comments (12)

If you are in charge Mr Mugabe i want to ask you a question . Mugabe are you aware that this country has been destroyed economically and politically? If you know that then step down give others chance to your shiite.If you are not aware that this country is now ruins then you are not fit to be in charge as you are not aware of what is surrounding you bcoz you are totally foolish and must stop bragging that you are in charge of this country and get away now .

Diibulaanyika - 28 February 2015

????

Bingo Wokwa Gutu - 1 March 2015

hapana murume asinga tongwe nemukadzi. we are all in one way or the other subjected to the same phenomenon. women rule guys. they control men. especially those who purpot to be real man.

taurai - 1 March 2015

Women yes can control their men but not to control their duties at work and when it gets to that point then that man is useless and is totally under peticoat govt and must leave that job to serve himself from being fired by shareholders . Some men are controlled by their women such that even if they want to retire the women would force them to stay on no matter how old are they even 91yrs the dying point for human beings . That shows us how evil are some women especially when the man is 41yrs older than the woman .

Diibulaanyika - 1 March 2015

Mugabe has reopened the race for who will succeed him. Mugabe was forced to name Mnangagwa VP last year because he could not dump Mujuru without his help. Now that he has successful purged Mujuru he is going back to deal with the crocodile. At best Mnangagwa will find he is not even on the starting line up on this race. At worst he could find himself being dumped too. Mujuru was accused of "factionalism" guess who is the leader of the other faction? He wants to stay in power until he dies and then be succeeded by his wife. Still all his efforts to stay in power and establish a Mugabe dynasty will come to naught because the economic meltdown will force him or his successor to step down or be forced out of office the Gaddafi way!

Wilbert Mukori - 2 March 2015

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chiremb - 2 March 2015

Taurai speak for yourself kana mukadzi wako achikutinga dont think its a worldwide trend maybe amai vako vaitonga baba vako then iwe unotongwa nemukadzi wava kuda kuti varume vese vanotongwa nevakadzi tibvire apo, ziva zvekutongwa KUMBA KWAKO

Harare - 2 March 2015

So Mugabe now has a throne? I thot a throne was for a monarch/ king/ queen.

Gwanyamwanya we Mahobo - 3 March 2015

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