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‘Grace now in control’

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President Robert Mugabe has all but confirmed that his wife, Grace, is running Zanu PF affairs from behind the scenes by refusing to accept blame for the purge of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her allies, it has emerged.

by EVERSON MUSHAVA

Former Presidential Affairs minister and ex-Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said Mugabe told him Mujuru’s ouster was engineered by the party’s Women’s League led by the First Lady.

Mutasa told South African newspaper Mail and Guardian last week that he confronted Mugabe on the developments in Zanu PF in the run-up to the December congress and was told that the Women’s League was responsible for what was happening.

The veteran politician has issued a statement threatening to take Mugabe to court if he fails to nullify the results of the “unconstitutional” December congress.

Asked why, as a Mugabe confidant of 35 years, he failed to talk over the issue with his boss, Mutasa said: “I tried to discuss it with him personally, but he was determined to go ahead, and he said: ‘This is none of my business. This is a matter … being done by the Women’s League and I have no hand in it, and Mutasa you must understand’.”

Grace had been nominated to take over as the Women’s League boss and had been traversing the country addressing rallies where she tore into former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her allies, accusing them of attempting to usurp power from her husband.

At that moment, Mugabe kept the party members guessing over how he would react until a few days before the congress when he also launched a vitriolic attack on his then second-in-command, setting the tone for ruthless action against Mujuru and her allies. Mujuru, Mutasa, former Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, secretary for the commissariat Webster Shamu and many more party heavyweights lost their positions and more threats against all who are perceived to be working with Mujuru are still being made.

Party insiders who refused to be named said Mugabe’s response was an admission that Grace was now in control.

“How could he leave national party issues to the Women’s League and say he has no hand in it? Grace is now in control,” a party insider said.

During her nationwide rallies, Grace threatened to rid the party of all those working with Mujuru and true to her word, ferocious purging followed. Mugabe himself at the congress admitted that his wife indeed had control over him immediately after his “Pasi neZanu PF” gaffe when he looked unsettled by a note slipped to him from Grace ordering him to cut his speech.

Soon after Mugabe left for the Far East with his wife for his annual holiday in December, he fired more ministers while there and upon return, he said he had been told to go back by his wife “Amai Stop It” to attend to national business while she recuperated following surgery.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said Mugabe’s response suggests that Grace was now in control. He, however, said for Mugabe to claim that he had no hand in the hounding-out of Mutasa was simply a convenient answer to avoid Mutasa’s questions.

“Yes, he was confirming that Grace is in control, but I largely I think that he was simply hiding behind a finger. He was simply saying what was convenient to him,” Ngwenya said.

Mugabe, Ngwenya said, was good at shifting blame. He said that is why the 91-year-old leader always blamed sanctions and colonialism for Zimbabwe’s and Africa’s problems.

But Alexander Rusero, another political analyst, said Mugabe felt that his position was under threat. He said Grace entered the political fray when Mugabe’s power was at stake.

Another analyst, Pedzisai Ruhanya, also said Mugabe was aware of what his wife was doing.

“He is the one who planned it and set his wife to execute the plot. If Mutasa believed what he was told by Mugabe, he is naive. Mugabe was aware, but does not have a friend when it comes to power. He sees himself as a monarch,” Ruhanya said.

He described Mugabe as a clever person who entrenches his control of Zanu PF by using State institutions and Mutasa should know that better.

“Mugabe has the State in his hands, moves with it in his pocket, on holiday and everywhere. He has conflated the party and State into one.”

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