President Robert Mugabe announced on Monday he had appointed Shuvai Ben Mahofa Minister of State for Masvingo province to replace the beleaguered Kudakwashe Bhasikiti relieved of his duty last week “for conduct inconsistent with his prescribed duties and functions”.
Many people found the resurfacing into mainstream politics of “old horse” Mahofa curious.
They were surprised that this “spent force” would be resurrected and made to take the leadership of a whole province of about 1,5 million people when the situation called for younger people with fresh ideas.
The truth of the matter is that Mahofa’s reappearance is as logical as it can get.
Zimbabweans are overly aware something is happening in the corridors of power.
Mugabe celebrated his 91st birthday over the weekend and people are already anticipating a post-Mugabe era.
This includes not only those who wish him ill, but also those who would love to continue his legacy. Everyone knows the hands of time are ticking towards his life’s sunset.
The fighting in the ruling party is intensifying as people try to place themselves in good stead in the scenario that Mugabe leaves office any time soon.
But the bigger picture is becoming clearer: First Lady Grace Mugabe is in the thick of the fight. Before dramatically entering mainstream politics, it was taken for granted that she had a passing interest in her husband’s succession.
Little did Zimbabweans know she was doing ground work for her eventual take-over.
She came in like a whirlwind and in five weeks changed the whole face of Zimbabwean politics.
She caused the demise of the only person who would have naturally succeeded Mugabe.
Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, even to the admission of her bitterest rival VP Emmerson Mnangagwa, was running a one-horse race when Grace Mugabe appeared on the scene.
Grace not only stopped Mujuru in her tracks, but went on to superintend the demise of anyone who would raise their voice and stand in her path towards success.
The reason for the demise of the so-called “Mujuru Cabal” can now be summarised in one phrase: “for conduct inconsistent with their prescribed duties and functions”.
And, these duties and functions were to ensure the ascendancy of Grace. But because she was a political nonentity only half a year ago, Grace needs allies with unquestionable loyalty. Such a one is Mahofa who Grace recently singled out as her role model.
Mahofa herself is an astute politician who saw her moment and seized it.
All her life she has survived on exploiting the opportunities thrown at her, her only political credential is her ability to sing. We all remember how she was always the first to burst into song whenever Mugabe appeared on the scene, particularly in Parliament.
Grace will need many such allies, and more will begin to emerge from the woodwork.
In the recent past praise-singing for the First Family has reached a crescendo with people normally considered staid outdoing each other in the game. Mugabe has been called God and adult men have knelt before him.
But all this is a bad omen. It gives us a sad peek into what is to come when Mugabe sooner or later calls it a day!