Leadership is not sexually transmitted, Grace Mugabe told

By Gift Phiri
Two months after launching her political career, First Lady Grace Mugabe may be watching the beginning of its end.

Facing withering criticism on several fronts — ideological, generational, sociological and judgmental — the threats to the former typist’s easy-earned status as Women’s League secretary-designate and possibly successor to her 90-year-old husband are multiplying, as she reels from a disastrous countrywide campaign that has left her mortally wounded, disgraced, and vulnerable.

It’s not only that, as political observers and analysts see it, the wrong woman is gunning for the presidency, and her campaign to topple a sitting Vice President has no precedence in Zanu PF.

All previous VPs left office through natural wastage to head to the National Heroes Acres — a national shrine for loyalist politicians and fallen guerrillas from the liberation war that ended white rule in Zimbabwe in 1980.

This time, the ruling party is behaving like a leaderless herd, with the first lady’s campaign speeches laced with so much hatred, bitterness and frustration.

Retired Lt. Colonel Kudzai Mbudzi, a former Zanla combatant and former Zanu PF provincial spokesperson, says it was unprecedented that a simple card-carrying member of an organisation without any substantive position, would move around the main organisational constituency scolding and purportedly disciplining the general membership and its top leadership by mere cushion of one’s conjugal relationship with the leader of the organisation.

Leadership is not sexually transmitted, he said.
Leadership is not sexually transmitted, Grace Mugabe told
“But Amai, why are you trying to criminalise other members’ political ambitions?” Mbudzi asked.

“You need reminding of the existence of a section in the constitution on the rights of members and therefore that we are all equal members of the party and as such, there is nothing wrong in one wanting to occupy any position within the party, including that of the president.

“But alas, Amai speaks as if we are not allowed to be ambitious in our own right as long as her family still exists.

“This notion that it just has to be her own family alone taking centre stage and no one else, is not only a lamentable exposition of one’s feeble mind, but a serious and perilous misdirected fantasy, embedded in thinking political naivety and mischief.

“She speaks as if we live for her: as if all party members are supposed to live to the service of the first family, or as if we are all slaves of the first family.

“How do you plot against a 90-year-old who supposedly is simply scripting some conclusive remarks to his political career? Amai must also have the wisdom to know that zera remurume wavo harisiri rekutukira vanhu.”

Addressing supporters at a Bindura stadium in Mashonaland central — Mujuru’s political base — Grace accused the VP of illicit diamond deals and expropriating shareholding in private companies.

She has threatened that she wanted Mujuru “baby dumped” at the December congress.

“With all due respect, the first lady ‘Dr’ Grace Mugabe may have lost big time in publicly insulting more seasoned Zanu PF leaders and in apparently taking sides with one particular faction,” Dewa Mavhinga, Human Rights Watch senior researcher told the Daily News.

“Effectively, she is giving the impression that she is a messenger speaking out the views and thoughts of president Mugabe, which thoughts now appear to be alignment with a particular faction.

“Amai Mugabe’s recent insults and language generally is not very motherly. Society does not expect a mother who runs a orphanage to be threatening ‘baby-dumping’. Such language is unmotherly.

“VP Mujuru has done well not to respond to these insults which are clearly factional and uncalled for. Amai should desist from deepening factions, she must be a mother to all, not to a faction.”

Stephen Chan, professor of world politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, said it was evident the Zanu PF succession wars were hotting up.

“Most people would not have expected such a clearly direct attack on Mujuru,” Chan told the Daily News yesterday.

“There are two questions here: Does Mujuru already have that much support that her rivals feel attacks of this sort are now needed?

“Or is the First Lady ignoring advice and shooting from the hip? It seems to me too loud and too early. If I were Mujuru, I would make no response at all. If her rivals are worried, that’s good for her.”

Pedzisai Ruhanya, a democracy scholar and political analyst, said: “What Grace and her cabal is doing has no precedence in Zanu PF. A sitting VP has never been humiliated and has never been removed in the manner they are trying to.

The kind of politics she is trying to introduce is foreign to Zanu PF. I don’t foresee a situation the VP will be removed in the manner she is trying to.”

Ruhanya said as Grace raves and rants, Mugabe is conspicuously silent.

“He wants to read the mood to see whether what Grace is saying has traction; the war veterans, State security organs, what’s their reading? Once he gets all this info, he will make a decision,” he said, adding there is likely to be no change.

At the same time, the Mujuru faction seems to be fighting back, and yesterday her loyalists stood up in Bindura and chanted rival slogans, while Ray Kaukonde openly defied the first lady by refusing to rise for a sham unity pact ostensibly to signal the end of factionalism.

This is both a result and a cause of Grace’s loss of clout. And a result it is, because the Mujuru faction loyalists, who spearheaded this mutiny yesterday, would have avoided it had they thought Grace was strong.

And a cause it is, because other potential mutineers now see that confronting Grace is feasible and affordable.

Zanu PF is torn between two rival factions, one led by Mujuru and another by Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, with both sides locked in a bitter wrangle to succeed the nonagenarian president when he retires.

Mujuru and Mnangagwa have both rejected claims that they were harbouring presidential ambitions.

In a sign that Grace is aware of the plot against her, she has said she is aware there are people planning “kundizvuzvurudza mutara (to drag me in the tarred road).”

Grace told the rally in Bindura on Thursday: “You say when Mugabe is gone you will take over his estate, come and take it today.

“What is stopping you (Joice Mujuru) from doing so since you use this road when you go to your home and the gates are open?” Daily News

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