'First Lady wants to secure future'

HARARE - Firts Lady Grace Mugabe’s growing involvement in the goings-on in the ruling Zanu PF belie both her higher leadership ambitions despite her protestations to the contrary, as well as her anxiety about a future without President Robert Mugabe, analysts say.

Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday in the wake of Zanu PF’s worsening factional and succession wars, as well as the party’s tumultuous politburo meeting last Wednesday — where she clashed with Water minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri — the analysts said her ongoing countrywide rallies were also meant to shore up her power in the former liberation movement.

“It seems Grace may be driven by both ambition and fear of a post-Mugabe era, and she probably believes the best way to secure her future is to succeed her husband. But that is a huge political gamble that could backfire massively,” senior Africa researcher at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga, said.

“To understand what is happening in Zanu PF and Grace’s political plans it is not necessary to listen to what she says because it can easily be misleading. People must observe what she is doing and what Zanu PF is doing in order to see the real direction of things.

“All the rallies and meet-the-people campaigns, and her so-called donations are meant to create a certain image and prepare people for the inevitable announcement of her grand political ambitions.

“Whoever says there is no bigger plan behind Grace’s whirlwind campaigns across the country is lying with a straight face. This could very well be the establishment of a Mugabe dynasty, if the people of Zimbabwe allow it,” Mavhinga added.

The first lady’s vociferous band of supporters have for some time now been using custom labels, stickers on buses and cars, bottled water and T-shirts emblazoned with her face to boost her political standing in the ruling party.

In addition, they have also lately been preaching about and spreading the controversial slogan “Munhu wese kunaAmai” (everyone must follow Grace) as they seek to present her as a worthy and viable Mugabe successor.

UK-based analyst and former advisor to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Alex Magaisa, said even though Grace was denying harbouring any presidential ambitions, it was clear that she was campaigning for a top political position.

“She is using her current role to raise her profile in the hope of launching a bid in future. She is building the nest and this is a good time to do it while she has access to State resources. Whether this will remain the case if Mugabe is gone is debatable,” Magaisa said.

South Africa-based analyst Taurai Mabhachi also said it was clear that Grace was pushing to succeed her husband.

“The Zanu PF president, who is her husband, has reached the twilight of his political life. Ordinarily, this kind of a scenario sees people positioning themselves to succeed him.

“It is also a verifiable truth that Mugabe has tacitly endorsed his wife to succeed him, given the fact that many Cabinet ministers attend rallies organised by his wife.

“The mere fact that she is visiting provinces where the political power lies is a clear demonstration that she has already thrown her hat in the succession battle,” he said.

He added that the fact that Grace was also distributing farming inputs sourced by the government was a ploy by her and her supporters to curry favour with the electorate.

“She would want to win the hearts of Zanu PF supporters prior to seeking support outside the party,” Mabhachi said, adding that Grace had now effectively usurped the power of government officials.

University of Zimbabwe political scientist, Shakespear Hamauswa, said the prevailing political situation showed that Zanu PF was in a succession crisis, in which Grace had become an important player.

“What is clear and undeniable is that Grace is being used as a pawn in a chess game. She has become influential but the influence will last as long as Mugabe lives. So, she will likely be a king maker,” he said.

“The process of succession is now a mess and anything is possible. We can be guided possibly by the consistency and or lack of it in her statements.

“We can see that in Mberengwa she was diplomatic, coming out in what seemed to be an endorsement for Mnangagwa. But unfortunately, the following day she was singing a different song,” Hamauswa added.

Well-placed sources who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News said so explosive was Zanu PF’s politburo meeting last week that Muchinguri-Kashiri — a perceived staunch ally of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, allegedly wept uncontrollably in the meeting, amid fierce factional fighting — and as a stunned Mugabe apparently watched the farce in stony silence.

This came after the politburo had endorsed the suspension and expulsion of many perceived supporters of the embattled VP, amid claims that more senior party officials loyal to him were set to face the chop in the next few months, as the post-congress Zanu PF’s factional and succession wars continue to escalate.

Mnangagwa himself is said to have not personally attempted to either oppose or stop Wednesday’s suspensions and expulsions during the politburo’s deliberations, appearing instead to “look up to president Mugabe for direction and help, but Gushungo (Mugabe) never said a thing”.

Muchinguri-Kashiri — who is allegedly aligned to the VP and has recently been locked in a vicious power struggle with Grace’s supporters in Manicaland — is alleged to have started the fight with the first lady whom she accused of fuelling infighting in the troubled province.

The Water minister, according to insiders, allegedly told Grace that she was the most senior party official in the province and thus always needed to be consulted on important decisions impacting on the region — apparently further insinuating that Grace had so far failed to run the women’s league properly.

“This angered Amai (Grace) and as she spoke, she got angrier and angrier saying ‘wakabvira kare uchindijairira ... (You have never respected me)”— apparently going on to give Muchinguri-Kashiri a severe tongue-lashing which resulted in Muchinguri-Kashiri crying.

Ironically, the two women were buddies only last year when they worked together to oust former Vice President Joice Mujuru from power. In addition, Muchinguri-Kashiri relinquished her post as women’s league secretary to make way for Grace.

Mugabe is said to have avoided joining the bust-up, only speaking much later when he appeared to admonish both Muchinguri-Kashiri and War veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa for often flaunting their liberation war credentials to get special treatment in the party.

“The president acknowledged the important role the war veterans had played, and continued to play, but warned that their continued deification could divide Zanu PF,” another source said.

Comments (15)

She will be eliminated soon after the cremation of the Despot. . . .

phuc da imbicele - 29 November 2015

She needs to tell the world where she buys or steals the Arafat Dishcloths that she super glues to her scalp

phuc da imbicele - 29 November 2015

Lacoste hapana deal apa , his supporters are playing their party , while he just sits and does nothing , i think its better for Lacoste team to look for leadership elsewhere

Hameno - 29 November 2015

One wonders what is on Robert Mugabe's mind? He should realise that he is not getting younger. The time to appoint his successor is now. The longer he postpones this decision the more his ZPF is torn apart and the more the Zimbabwe economy and its people suffer. The economy is likely to implode resulting in civil unrest. Time is not on Robert Mugabe's side so he needs to move on pretty soon.

Benjamin - 29 November 2015

Mai Tanya I will never feel sorry for you nezvamakaita mai Nhongo even when we merge as Lacoste Ne People first where are you going to put yourself, makanyanya kuda kutaurisa Makamonzwa baba Fari vachitaura against mai Nhongo? Food for thought just so you should know Isu ma ZANLA forces we stick together even pano pinda zviningamupinisa sa Gire mudiro gore rino muchadzidza zvakawanda

cdetorasabutiende - 29 November 2015

I don't think its Mugabe's business to appoint his successor but that of zimbabweans. why should he enjoy that privilege. What if he appoints his wife? then we have a dynasty. this business of asking him to appoint a successor is dangerous. People should ask him to step down then we elect a new leader ourselves.

mushandindini - 29 November 2015

People had better start getting used to the fact that regardless of what the majority of Zimbabweans might like or dislike, they do not and never will have any real say anymore in Zimbabwean politics. This is no clumsy statement but a hard fact. Our future is now very much in the hands of China...let us hope that they choose the right path and direction.

Reality - 30 November 2015

People should leave Mugabe alone. Why should Mugabe appoint a successor. Do it like the American way. We the mass should choose our successor. Let there be elections province by province to choose a leader and one who garners more than half provinces should stand against the opposition parties' leaders.

Ngwekazi - 30 November 2015

the end is near

Sipambi - 30 November 2015

any one who is in her position would her position would feel insecure. Mainly because when you enjoy state house you brush your shoulders against fellow party members and those from the opposition. These mostly those from within will find ways of retaliating when your spouse expires/ retires from active politics. Having her suceed her husband may not be possible unless there are others who feel they may use her then vanquish her. In politicvs there are no permanent friends. The Chiluba case has left many african leaders insecure.

ngirozi mikairi - 30 November 2015

Munokanganwa vanhu.Apera ndiani/ ngwena.not now.those who know ngwena know the time is near when ngwena rises to the surface.Noone knows the election ssystem than ngwena,noone knows gorvenment beter than ngwena and noone knows zanu beter than ngwena now.most importantly noone knows army and c.i.o beter than ngwena.Grace n crew can plan n plan bt mu CIO ne Army haulume.warvets area.What hapened 2008 elections?if it was not ngwena Tsvangi wuld be ruling,no feelings to him but akarohwa na Ngwena akamirira ma results.All these vana Grace,kasukuwere are nobodies ,noise chete.Unotemba president vave ne 92 yrs for yo future?mad.Ngwena can give grace life after Mugabe.not herself.We will finnish her inside 4 days from heroes acre.Only ngwena can protect her.Kasukuwere ,zhuwawo uyazibonela.

viola gwena - 30 November 2015

why not give her the assurance that she will be secure even after her husband is no longer in power? thats where we fail guys. there is no need to be vindictive. she is a zimbabwean who deserves full rights to be a free citizen of this country just like mugabe did to ian smith. let her not labour for her right for that might in the end complicate our politics. if tsvangirai was not talking vindictiveness he probably could have ruled zimbabwe. the guy criminalized mugabe such that mugabe had no option but to stay put and secure himself. let's not make the same mistake.

zvirozviyedzwa - 30 November 2015

musadherere team lacoste. ukavona voita something marehearsals and everything else zvatoita kudhara. Musatya henyu people should have read what happened in Mberengwa and what will happen in Masvingo soon. Inohi ngwena. TEAM LACOSTE

Wezhira - 30 November 2015

The Chinese are looting this country dry whilst zanupf fights internally,

Realist - 30 November 2015

Grace and family must get out of the way. They can't even run the so called Gushungo Holdings. We all fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe directly or indirectly and we can't continue to be sidelined by these thieves. If Grace is an academic, she can easily get another job.

George Ngoro - 30 November 2015

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