Grace still in the mix

HARARE - As the post-congress Zanu PF hurtles towards its crucial annual conference to be held in Victoria Falls early next month, amid the party’s worsening factional and succession wars, First Lady Grace Mugabe has left the door open for her supporters to push for a return of the women’s quota system in the former liberation movement.

Well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News at the weekend said President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly-influential wife told a closed door party meeting that preceded her rally in the Harare suburb of Mbare last Thursday that “it was up to women to push for the return of the quota system”.

This means that despite her recent Grace Mugabe still in the mix pronouncements to the contrary at her rallies — that she does not harbour any ambitions of higher office in the party — the door is still open for her supporters, particularly the women’s league — to push for her to become one of Zanu PF’s two vice presidents, as per the party’s old constitution.

“She reminded the women’s league that they were the ones who had allowed amendments to the party’s constitution which took away the women’s quota system.

“Amai gave us a challenge saying ‘you let it happen so are you ready to fight for its return? It is up to you to fight for what is rightfully yours’ and we all agreed with that,” one of the sources said.

Contacted for comment, one of the first lady’s most vocal supporters, Sarah Mahoka — credited with coining the slogan “Pasi nevanoti Eve haatongi” (Down with those who say Grace should not rule) — all but confirmed the development.

“As the Zanu PF women’s league we are saying the party’s constitution must fulfil the national Constitution that advocates for 50/50 representation between women and men in all positions, both in government and the party,” Mahoka said.

“That is our position even as a province (Mashonaland West). We have not said the presidium but all positions in the party. We are asking for 50/50. We are the ruling party and the national Constitution is ours as well. So, why does it have to differ with that of the party?” she added.

A senior party official who attended the Thursday closed door meeting also said that Grace had appeared to blame her predecessor, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, for not doing anything to stop “retrogressive” amendments to the constitution that disempowered women.

“She exonerated herself saying previously the constitution said the other vice president should be a woman but it was Muchinguri-Kashiri’s executive which okayed the deletion of the clause, and so if women wanted it back they had to work for it,” the official said.

If the open demands by the Zanu PF women’s league are accommodated, Grace’s supporters envisage a situation where she will be catapulted to the vice president’s post with one of Mugabe’s current co-deputies — Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko — necessarily being demoted.

Mnangagwa, who has since late last year been heavily tipped to take over from Mugabe, was derailed by the same policy in 2004 when the women’s league again pushed for the elevation of former Vice President Joice Mujuru to be one of the nonagenarian’s deputies.

And to add to his woes, several youth provincial executives including Harare and Mashonaland Central provinces have moved to endorse Mugabe as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 national elections, while “decidedly refusing” to name the VP as the nonagenarian’s deputy — leaving the man known as Ngwena (Crocodile) in limbo.

In the meantime, it is also said Grace went on to heap praise on the Zanu PF political commissar for Harare Province, Shadreck Mashayamombe, at the Mbare briefing — describing him as a “former rebel who realised his mistake and came back kuna (to) Amai”.

“First it was Mashayamombe who was being admonished for previously aligning himself with Mujuru before she thanked him saying he is now working hard for the party, before calling on (Mbare MP and former politburo member Tendai) Savanhu and promising to help him reconnect with the people”.

Addressing party supporters at successive rallies in Harare, the Midlands and Mashonaland East provinces, Grace also took a dig at some war veterans she said were opposed to her.

Likening herself to a powerful engine, the increasingly-influential Grace described her rivals as cowards who trembled with fear each time they heard she was holding a rally.

“They can say what they want to say … but I won’t stop. I have the energy, I have a 60-horsepower engine to work for the people,” she said, adding that ‘there are people who are afraid when they see the 60-horsepower working … and start to badmouth me. When that happens I work harder and get into 90-horspeower (mode)”.

And while she has emphasised that she is content with being Mugabe’s wife, she has gone on to say that she was chosen to her position by women and thus no one had the power to remove her other than the women’s league — a loaded statement that insiders say leaves room for her to take a higher post should that league “choose to push for her further elevation”.

Comments (5)

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bremand bremand - 24 November 2015

we are experiencing the Pinocchio paradox here. where does the truth lie here and when shall these people stop wasting state resources and start delivering the 2 million jobs they promised in 2013?

jopshat mugadzaweta - 25 November 2015

Waiting for more than 35 years kuzotongwa naGrace

zvakapresser - 25 November 2015

Uncle K has refused to be silenced and he continued to speak out against the hate, the torture, the abuse and whats next. Caught live on video

Richby - 25 November 2015

we as Larcoste team,hativati.we plan n plan and succeed.a woman v.p can only come from zapu this time.zanu did it 1st now its zapu.yu think women from zapu dont want to be vp also?think on that.besides how many provinces are backing that ,only 2.Harare has not ,mash east no,matabelaland all what?Opah knows this thats why she dont bark wrong trees.

viola gwena - 25 November 2015

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