First Lady Grace Mugabe’s entry into the political fray has created a mixture of excitement, anxiety and consternation within Zimbabwean politics. She has become a powerful political force in the ruling Zanu PF, with information emerging that some party bigwigs are now abandoning their factions to rally behind her.
By Jerry Chifamba
With the help of her husband President Robert Mugabe, they take turns to slam Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his allies, accusing them of being disloyal and lying about factionalism within the ruling party.
Mnangagwa, a long-serving Mugabe loyalist, is under siege from a rival faction fronted by First Lady Grace Mugabe. The group, popularly known as G40, is pushing to oust Mnangagwa before or by December for maneouvering to succeed his boss, although Mnangagwa has been resisting the pressure. However, Mugabe’s direct involvement has shifted the balances of power, leaving Mnangagwa vulnerable as the 93-year-old is under growing pressure from his wife and her G40 allies.
Now Grace Mugabe is reportedly plotting a “final push” to oust Mnangagwa at the forthcoming elective congress in December, as the battle to succeed her ageing husband intensifies.
Here are ten instances in which she has lost her cool and attacked Mnangagwa:
1. “I know that Mnangagwa is the leader of Team Lacoste; why are you remaining quiet when your people are insulting the presidency? Some youths are being expelled from the party for indiscipline and you are being seen together at your house drinking tea and beer with them and that is not right. We get angry when we see such things.”
Mnangagwa, currently feeling the heat from a rival faction within the ruling party, recently fell ill during a rally, fuelling speculation that he had been poisoned. His sympathisers claimed he had been poisoned through ice cream made by President Robert Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairies.
2. “How can I prepare one cup of ice cream and put poison to kill Mnangagwa. I am the wife of the President, who is Mnangagwa on this earth? Who is he? Who can kill the other in this situation, I want to ask, what do I need from him?”
3. “I am the wife of Mugabe, the President, I’m the first lady and Mnangagwa is a nobody. He was employed by my husband.”
This came after War Veterans Minister Chris Mutsvangwa, seen as a close Mnangagwa ally, appeared to take a dig at party rivals who did not participate in the liberation war, saying that they could never rule this country.
4. “There are some who think that because they fought in the war to liberate the country, their war credentials give them the right to do what they want. Are you the only one who fought in that war? You can’t like the president and hate his wife. Its impossible.”
5. “Anyone who was with Mugabe in 1980 has no right to tell him he is old. If you want Mugabe to go, then you leave together. You also have to leave. Then we take over because we were not there in 1980.”
6.”My husband is someone who is very disciplined when it comes to women. He is not a bambazonke (grab everything) type, never ever. He keeps me and me alone.”
7. “By saying these statements (threatening a coup) you should be locked up but just that President Mugabe is a lenient person because in other countries you would be languishing in prison.”
A furious Lady Grace Mugabe could not even start her speech with salutations at the launch of the Youth Empowerment Bank as she went straight to attack vice president Emerson Mngangwa about remarks in which he claimed that he was poisoned.
8.”We don’t like people who go around threatening people that if their preferred candidate or Mnangagwa is not elevated to the presidency, we will shoot you. Kill if you can, why aren’t you?”
9. “You are irreplaceable president, you will rule from your grave at the Heroes Acre because you are a uniting force for us.”
10. “They say I want to be President. Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?”
Once known for her love of Gucci shopping sprees and reportedly unceremoniously taking the place of Mugabe’s popular first wife Sally while she was dying, Grace Mugabe, is now the topic of serious debate among political commentators. Most view her potential political rise with a mixture of puzzlement and worry.