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Mugabe defends Grace

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President Robert yesterday defended his wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe, saying she did not lead a faction and her critics were jealous because of her work and had nothing to offer.

By XOLISANI NCUBE

Addressing the Zanu PF central committee, Mugabe said neither Grace nor Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa led factions, saying this was fictitious and imaginary.

“I want to pay tribute to the Women’s League … they have criss-crossed the country drumming up support.

“They have shown that there is no time to rest in between elections, hence they are a target by the opposition papers, who have nothing to offer.

“They create fictitious and imaginary factions trying to divide us. They say it is the First Lady versus Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.”

Grace has held a number of rallies across the country, where she has attacked faction leaders without mentioning them by name, but observers are certain she has turned her swords on Mnangagwa.

Party members claim Grace is propping up G40, a faction of Young Turks, reportedly battling for control of the party.

But Mugabe said his wife had been the subject of a relentless media attack for “doing a good job which terrified the opposition”.

The Zanu PF leader denied the existence of factionalism in his party, claiming divisions were a creation of the private media, which he described as opposition media.

Without a hint of irony, as Mugabe claimed there was no infighting in the party, youth leaders were at each other’s throats at the Zanu PF headquarters and earned themselves a strong reprimand from the veteran leader.

With guns blazing, Mugabe blasted some “undisciplined and rogue” party youths, whom he accused of stoking divisions in the party by attacking their leaders, warning them that their days were numbered.

“Let us respect decisions and procedures of the party,” he said.

“We have witnessed lower organs of the party or cadres challenging superior organs or leaders appointed by the party to lead them. Such actions amount to insubordination.

“We need to get our respect as leaders, and as members, we must share that respect. All of us must respect each other.”

Mugabe’s party is currently locked in bitter factional fights, as the race to succeed the 91-year-old leader heats up.

The internecine fights have seen youths emerging as a powerful organ of the party, but others insist they are being used as pawns.

Before Mugabe addressed the central committee, provincial youth leaders, who were attending their own national executive meeting, nearly exchanged blows with their leader Kudzai Chipanga in full view of the watching media.

The youths threatened Chipanga saying he was an undisciplined leader after he reprimanded his secretary for administration, Lewis Matutu for an unknown misdeed.

The provincial youth leaders, most of whom are accused of being aligned to a faction reportedly led by Mnangagwa, ganged up against the Zanu PF national deputy youth leader and threatened to send him into political oblivion.

“We blame ourselves for having saved you when you were attacked for working with Didymus Mutasa. We will send you back to DD (Mutasa) where you belong,” shouted Edmore Samambwa, the Midlands provincial youth chair.

The drama ended after Pupurai Togarepi, the party’s secretary for youth affairs, intervened.

Without mentioning names, but in obvious reference to the incident, Mugabe rebuked such behaviour, warning the youths against criticising their leaders in the full glare of the media.

The central committee was expected to deliberate on preparations for the party’s December conference slated for Victoria Falls and evaluate the state of the party.

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