HARARE - Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s political career in Zanu PF is hanging in the balance, after First Lady Grace Mugabe launched a thinly-veiled frontal attack on President Robert Mugabe’s embattled deputy yesterday.
The powerful First Lady ominously accused Mnangagwa — among a litany of other deadly charges — of deception, faking love for President Robert Mugabe, and in fact working feverishly to topple the long-ruling nonagenarian from power.
Addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters at her latest no-holds-barred rally at Kanyemba Secondary School in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central, Grace — who referred to herself as mafirakureva (Shona for truth teller) — also said pointedly that all those senior party officials who were angling to succeed Mugabe would be disappointed.
“Vanoti Mugabe achembera ngaabve, ivo vachiri vadiki here? (Those who say Mugabe is old and therefore must relinquish power are not young themselves),” she said in remarks that senior party officials present at the rally said were directed at 74-year-old Mnangagwa.
“It’s God who is saying Mugabe be there, because He wants him to accomplish certain tasks. That’s why he can manage to do the things he is doing as the president,” she added.
From left: Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo, Phelekezela Mphoko and Grace Mugabe during a rally at Kanyemba Secondary School in Chiweshe. Pic: Annie Mpalume
Although the first lady never mentioned any names directly in her address, she said she would do so at her next rallies if the plotters continued in their ways, further insinuating that Mnangagwa was ungrateful for having been given the post that he currently occupied by Mugabe, after the brutal 2014 purging of former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
“Some people ... have overstayed their welcome. Vagarisa ... asi tichavayanika pachena (we will expose these plotters) at the next rally, watch this space.
“We are not fools. We have seen people, among them youths, wearing T-shirts with Zimbabwean flags labelled Lacoste, and when we asked them they said Lacoste is a perfume. We are not fools.
“Do not take us for fools. They will not take over from Mugabe. I will rather put him in a wheelbarrow to work because we have realised that those we thought were being groomed as leaders are sell-outs. We no longer have confidence in them,” Grace charged.
She also said that the people who were behind the party’s succession machinations were not happy that she was distributing tractors and groceries to people.
“They say I am being propped up because I want to be in charge. I am already in charge, I am the first lady and you heard Vice President Mphoko giving you the hierarchy, with Mugabe and myself at the top. So what more power would I want? I am in charge already and that is enough,” she said.
Speaking earlier, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko also took a dig at Team Lacoste, saying that there was a dangerous misconception being created within the party that the next president should come from the Karanga ethnic group — the biggest Shona sub-group to which Mnangagwa belongs.
“There is nowhere in the Constitution where it says the country was liberated by a Ndebele, Karanga or Zezuru. The Constitution says the country was liberated by Zapu and Zanu. So what we are hearing now, that since Mugabe is Zezuru, the next should be a Karanga is misplaced. It will not succeed,” he said.
The First Lady also suggested that Mugabe’s close lieutenants wanted to kill her youngest son Bellarmine Chatunga. She further said the recent attempted bombing at the First Family’s dairy farm in Mazowe was meant to intimidate them to hand over power now to the successionists.
“You are so cruel and you want me to respect you? Do not play with me because the people you tell will report to us. People will pass a vote of no confidence in you and when that happens you start complaining that the rate at which people are being sacked is too much and that it has never happened before in the history of the party.
“Now it pains you because you are now the target. But you were smiling when it happened to others.
“Is that fair to want to kill my son Bellarmine so as to intimidate us into handing over power to you? Can we go that far? You are mad. There is no vacancy at State House. I am still there,” she fumed, adding that “there will only be a vacancy at State House when you die yourself”.
“We know that you treat me as Mugabe’s mistress, posting Sally’s (Mugabe’s late first wife’s) pictures saying she was better, yet we have never talked about your pool of girlfriends and thousands of children,” she added.
Grace also went to town savaging The Herald newspaper and defending Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo’s use of social media in his recent fights with Mnangagwa’s allies.
“I felt ashamed on Wednesday at the politburo meeting as they lied to the president. They must thank heavens Mugabe has patience to listen to such lies by people he appointed.
“I do not have that patience and I had to restrain myself otherwise I would have burst ... I cannot tolerate that nonsense of being taken for a fool by my appointees.
“I was shocked when I spoke on Wednesday only to hear The Herald report that I attacked Jonathan Moyo. Why should I attack him as if he was talking to himself on Twitter?
“With all his education and intelligence how could he possibly speak to himself? You begin to see who is controlling that paper. What is happening there journalists?” she added in apparent reference to under-fire Information permanent secretary George Charamba, who stands accused of gross abuse of State media to advance Team Lacoste’s factional interests.
Grace also took a swipe at War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa for his constant bragging about his liberation war credentials.
“We respect you our war veterans but you can’t intimidate me when I am the wife of one of the biggest guerrillas. Why do you have to brag and say mai (Grace) cannot tell me anything when you are destroying the party?” she said.
Speaking at the same rally, women’s league secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka — who savaged Mnangagwa last Wednesday — said Mugabe was God-ordained to rule forever, quoted the Bible to buttress her point.
She quoted the book of Romans which says: “Every person must obey the leaders of the land. There is no power given but from God, and all leaders are allowed by God. The person who does not obey the leaders of the land is working against what God has done. Anyone who does that will be punished.”
“Munhu nemunhu ngaazviise pasi pevakuru. Tinofanirwa kuzviisa pasi paVaMugabe vari kutonga, pasi pamai Mugabe vari kutonga (Everyone must respect the leadership),” Mahoka said.
Calling herself “Pastor Mahoka”, she added: “Anoramba shoko kuti VaMugabe vatonge kusvika vafa anorangwa naMwari. Anodzivisa hutongi hwaVaMugabe achatongwa naMwari. (God’s wrath will visit anyone who attempts to disrupt Mugabe’s reign)”.
She also hammered the point that the governing party would be fielding Mugabe as its presidential candidate in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 presidential election.
Zanu PF Mashonaland Central chairperson Dickson Mafios also said Mugabe’s position would only be vacant when he dies.
“Hapana pari vacant. Pawawona pari vacant ndepapi? Dzese chair dzakazara (There is no vacancy in the presidency. All the seats are occupied).
“We don’t want to waste time with people who want to grab power. Do the best where you are. Perform where you are. Don’t look at other people’s seats,” Mafios said.