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D-Day for Grace Mugabe

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace’s giant step into the political arena is set to be formalised tomorrow as the ruling Zanu PF party’s Mashonaland West provincial Women’s League executive meet to elect their central committee representatives.

EVERSON MUSHAVA/BLESSED MHLANGA

It is understood that the party’s Zvimba district would forward First Lady Grace’s name to Mashonaland West province, which was in turn expected to nominate her for a slot in the central committee ahead of the Women’s League conference next week.

This follows her nomination to head the Women’s League by all the 10 provinces at her 49th birthday celebrations recently.

Incumbent Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri, in a surprise move, last week pulled a rug from underneath Vice-President Joice Mujuru by throwing her weight behind Grace’s nomination.

Muchinguri said it was the only way Zanu PF could reward the First Lady for campaigning for the ruling party in last year’s general elections and standing by the President in difficult times.

Today, youths from the country’s 10 provinces will add their voice by marching in Mazowe – where Mugabe has vast business
interests – in solidarity with Grace’s nomination to head the Women’s League.

“The First Lady will address the youths,” a party official said yesterday.

Party insiders told NewsDay that Grace’s fate would be formalised tomorrow through the nomination process by Mashonaland West province.

“She was not contesting in district polls. She would be nominated on Friday (tomorrow) at the provincial conference,” a Zanu PF insider said.

Tightly contested voting was underway in all the provinces at district level yesterday. Each province will today elect four candidates for each province who will then contest executive positions at the women’s conference from August 20 to 22.

In Mashonaland West, Kariba-Hurungwe districts voted Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka while Caroline Mugabe beat Marry Phiri in the Zvimba district women’s polls.

Over 55 women chairpersons who form the Zanu PF Gokwe North electoral college in the Midlands, allegedly abducted last Friday by Minister of State Flora Bhuka (Midlands senator proportional representation) were reported to be still missing ahead of the crunch women’s elections last night.

The Midlands Zanu PF provincial Women’s League was due to elect four of its members who will seat in the central committee while some will eventually land posts in the politburo.

In elections which have already taken a factional twist,Gokwe-Gumunyu MP Melania Majubane, who is contesting against Bhuka for the Gokwe district position, made sensational claims that there were efforts to rig the elections using money and abductions.

“Up to now my team has failed to locate the electoral college since it was kidnapped by known persons who are working with a top government minister to subvert this electoral process against the advice of President Robert Mugabe who said use of money and dirty tricks will not be tolerated,” she said.

Majubane is reportedly linked to a faction aligned to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, while Bhuka, who has fended off numerous attacks over her leadership in the province, was linked to the Mujuru faction.

Mujuru and Mnangagwa have both publicly denied leading any factions in the party saying their allegiance is to Mugabe.

Zanu PF Midlands chairman and Minister of Provincial Affairs Jason Machaya has denied receiving any reports of kidnapping of the electoral college members.

Meanwhile, Zanu PF’s national electoral directorate yesterday endorsed Youth League candidates elected as representatives in the central committee across the party’s 10 provinces ahead of the wing’s conference which begins today and ends on Sunday in Harare.

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