First Lady Grace Mugabe yesterday pushed for the ouster of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, saying President Robert Mugabe should appoint a deputy who works
with him not one who does nothing.
This open warfare occurred as Zanu PF heads to its explosive elective December congress. Mujuru is the only Vice-President since the death of John Nkomo two years ago.
Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly lead factions angling to succeed 90-year-old Mugabe although both have in the past denied harbouring presidential ambitions.
Addressing about 6 000 supporters at Phelandaba Stadium in Gwanda yesterday, Grace, without mentioning Mujuru by name, said there was no one in Zanu PF permanently guaranteed of a post in the ruling party.
“Some think because you are Vice-President, you just stay there and do nothing while Mugabe works for you,” she said.
“We want a Vice-President who helps the President, not just one who piggybacks on Mugabe’s back. We no longer want that. We want people who are capable. You
mustn’t think because you have a post you are there forever. You must work for it.”
This is the first direct attack Grace has made on Mujuru, amid swirling rumours that she was working to torpedo the Vice-President’s bid to succeed Mugabe, who turns 91 in the next four months.
On Sunday, State media reported that there were some within the party that were calling for the amendment of Zanu PF’s constitution to enable Mugabe to appoint his two deputies and party chair, instead of the current situation where provinces nominate their preferred candidates for the Presidium.
Mujuru looked likely to retain her post and succeed Mugabe, but her chances were increasingly waning by the day as party hawks working in cahoots with the First Lady seem to be plotting to pull the rug from under her feet.
Grace also blasted senior party officials for leaking internal party fights to the media.
“I am disappointed here in Matabeleland South that we are rushing to the newspapers, now we have five people vying for the post of Vice-President,” she said.
“I am ashamed of you. Don’t you know the party’s code of conduct? Stop it! Stop it! The President is the one who appoints the Vice-President.”
Turning to her favourite theme, Grace took a swipe at unnamed senior Zanu PF officials whom she accused of fanning factionalism, sponsoring and drugging party youths to disrupt her rally in Mutare last week.
“We have senior members in the party who are educated, but lack wisdom. How does an old man or woman buy alcohol and mbanje for youths and tell them to boo me when I am speaking? I don’t think it’s a good thing,” she said.
“This factionalism thing is now a problem. If I could move time, I would so we get to the congress because people are getting mad because of this factionalism.”
Grace said the regime change agenda was now being instigated from within the ruling party and warned that Zanu PF risked being divided like the MDC.
She defended her husband, describing him as a gift from God who was not driven by the passion to accumulate material wealth.
She said the Zanu PF leader did not have money or properties outside Zimbabwe.
Grace, who is set to take over from Oppah Muchinguri as the Zanu PF secretary for women’s affairs at the December congress, said she would work towards assisting women in the province in gold-panning and cattle ranching.
There were murmurs of discontent at the rally as Grace addressed the crowd in Shona without the aid of an interpreter, with some saying they felt left out.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has defended its live coverage of the First Lady’s campaign rallies, saying she deserved more media attention because of her status.
This was after some analysts questioned the financial benefits of such events, given ZBC’s perennial cash challenges.
Grace, who has held highly-charged rallies in Gweru, Chinhoyi, Mutare, Harare, Gwanda and Masvingo, was expected to extend her provincial outreach programme with another rally in Lupane today before moving to Bulawayo on Wednesday.