Grace Mugabe confirms her presidential ambitions
Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe’s comments signify an escalation of the succession battle in Zanu PF ahead of the party’s elective congress in December and confirmed the long held public view that she was working with a faction led by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, to stop Vice President Joice Mujuru, although she has presidential ambitions of her own.
She spoke glowingly of Mnangagwa.
Addressing war veterans who gathered at her orphanage in Mazowe, in Mashonaland Central province – ironically Mujuru’s home province, Grace for the first time publicly mentioned Mujuru by name. In previous rallies she has verbally attacked Mujuru, describing her as lazy, incompetent, corrupt and an extortionist but has never publicly mentioned her name.
“Mai Mujuru must resign!” she told war veterans, before turning to war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba to ask if he was not happy that there was a vacancy in the vice president’s office.
“We request that dai achingoterera zvataurika kuti baba zvisavaomera. Takataura isu zvebaby dumping cause ndakati baba kana vakasakudumper, we will do it ourselves. (We request that she listens to the voice of reason so that she does not make Mugabe make a decision. We have talked about baby dumping, and I said if Mugabe does not dump her, we will do it ourselves),” said Grace.
Grace said the vice president was not doing any work and was of no value to the president.
“Mujuru has done nothing since her appointment because she spent her time eyeing the president’s post. I don’t see how she is capable of leading this country,” before accusing her of wanting to stage a coup.
Grace recently completed a tour of the country’s 10 provinces to thank members of the Zanu PF women’s league for electing her to lead them. Mujuru did not attend any of the rallies and Grace suggested that the vice president was questioning the purpose of her holding the rallies “Why not [hold rallies]? I am the First Lady.”
“They say I want to be President, why not, am I not a Zimbabwean?” Grace said, in remarks targeted at Mujuru, which also confirmed her ambitions. “Oh so it’s only you [Mujuru] who is suitable. Today we say go and rest mother so that those who are capable can go on leading,” she added.
She said Zimbabwe had many people who had potential to lead the country, but certainly not Mujuru before questioning her liberation war credentials. Mujuru is said to have downed a helicopter carrying Rhodesian soldiers during the armed liberation struggle, but Grace suggested it was a lie.
“All war veterans know what they did, not those who claim that they have downed a chopper. Let people say it than praise yourself only to be disapproved by others,” she said.
Grace said Zimbabweans should respect Mnangagwa whom she said had the support of eight of the country’s 10 provinces ahead of the 2004 congress, which catapulted Mujuru to the vice presidency.
Mugabe blocked Mnangagwa from taking over power after supporting an idea by the Mujuru faction that the position be reserved for a woman. Ironically Grace and her right hand woman, Oppah Muchinguri, campaigned for Mujuru to take the position but are now working around the clock to block her charge towards the presidency.
Mujuru leads a faction that is controlling the majority of Zanu PF structures including the politburo, central committee, and the provinces. She looked assured of landing the position until Grace joined hands with the Mnangagwa faction.
The First Lady told war veterans she had played a big part in ensuring Mujuru gets the vice presidency, but said once there, she became power hungry and began to push for Mugabe’s ouster.
Grace is eyeing a senior position as she is keen to assume power so that she can protect her family and vast business empire. She does not believe Mujuru will protect her interests and has been publicly revealing her fears.