PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is reportedly planning to recall some of the Zanu PF MPs linked to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru soon and call for by-elections that would see his wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe, contest the Mazowe South seat to enable her to qualify for a Cabinet appointment, NewsDay has learnt.
The seat currently falls under sacked Justice deputy minister Fortune Chasi who recently crossed swords with the First Lady after he allegedly attempted to block her land grab in the Mazowe area.
Sources said the plan to recall the “dissident MPs” and purge Chasi to pave way for Grace was hatched long back and that partly explains the First Lady’s vitriol attack on Chasi at her Mazowe Orphanage Centre in August this year.
According to sources, Grace wanted the parliamentary seat to enable her to land a Cabinet post following her recent elevation to the Zanu PF central committee and politburo.
Grace remains the favourite candidate to take over from Oppah Muchinguri, who doubled up as Zanu PF Women’s League secretary and Gender minister.
Sources said Mugabe deliberately left the ministry vacant to allow the planned purge to run its course and create a vacant parliamentary seat for his wife.
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has already been informed to prepare for by-elections. Some MPs perceived to have been working with Mujuru would be recalled and by-elections will be recalled,” said a source privy to the developments.
Mugabe, the source said, would announce another Cabinet reshuffle soon after his return from his annual leave, and continue his purge on perceived party dissidents.
To date, the 90-year-old Zanu PF leader has purged his deputy Mujuru and 16 Cabinet ministers that he fingered to be involved in the alleged plot to oust him.
Mujuru has already been replaced by her antagonist former Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“The plot to make Grace an MP started a long time back, that is why Grace herself attacked Chasi. She was preparing groundwork for his ouster so that she could take over the seat,” the source added.
Chasi was kicked out of government on Sunday alongside six other ministers, bringing to 16 the number of government ministers who have been axed since the beginning of this month.
According to Chief Secretary to the Cabinet and the President’s Office Misheck Sibanda, the ministers’ performance and conduct were below standard and they were also accused of corruption, fanning factionalism and plotting Mugabe’s ouster.
The Zanu PF axe has also claimed the scalps of former party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and nine former provincial chairpersons suspected of being involved in the alleged plot to topple Mugabe.
However, some MPs, who seem to be the target of the move, have vowed to contest as independent candidates should they be recalled, a move that is set to split Zanu PF votes in favour of opposition candidates.
“We will contest as independent candidates if we are recalled,” said one MP.
According to political analyst Ibbo Mandaza, about 100 MPs belong to the Mujuru camp. If they are all recalled, he said, Mugabe would have to dissolve Parliament and call for a general election, which might not work in his favour.
“Only a few will be sacrificed and recalled from Parliament to avoid a general election,” the source said.
Analysts yesterday said although the ongoing purge on alleged anti-Mugabe officials had created enough drama, interest had now shifted to the unfolding of Grace’s grand plan to topple Chasi through a forced parliamentary recall.
Chasi could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Speaking at her Mazowe property in August, Grace accused Chasi of “hating the First Family for no reason”.
“I must be open and honest. In this constituency, we have a new MP, I don’t know him personally, but his name is Chasi and he is a problem. He is stressing me a lot, andishungurudza zvisingaite (he has given me so much grief),” she said.
Grace seized some 870 hectares of land belonging to Mazoe Citrus Estate, which is owned by Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Interfresh Holdings, to expand her vast real estate portfolio in the district where she also runs an orphanage.
She claimed to have found the land lying idle, allegations disputed by Interfresh.
The company has since revealed that the seizure of the land threatened its very survival after worried international financiers reacted by blocking credit lines, citing increased sovereign risk.
Grace said up to 1 000 villagers were coerced to invade the property in a bid to stifle her operations.
Meanwhile, sources added that the Zanu PF purge was set to be extended to the diplomatic missions, permanent secretaries and other government bodies early next year.
Sources revealed that Mugabe wants some ambassadors recalled, although they did not say who were the likely targets.
Ambassadors serve four-year terms that can be renewed depending on foreign policy considerations, but the insiders revealed that some may be recalled way before their terms of office expire.
The last diplomatic mission reshuffle was in September.