FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe made a dramatic U-turn yesterday when she said Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was her boss in the party and he did not take instructions from her.
by Blessed Mhlanga
In a one and a half-hour long address at Mataga Growth Point, Mberengwa, in Midlands province, Grace appeared to dump a faction of the ruling party known as Generation 40 (G40) that had of late claimed her as its leader under the mantra “munhu wese kunamai” (all support to the First Lady).
President Robert Mugabe’s wife said the constitutions of both Zimbabwe and Zanu PF were very clear on who would take over the reins of power in the event that her husband is incapacitated.
“Have you ever heard that I have ever acted as President any time that President Mugabe has left the country? Nonsense!
Mnangagwa is the one who is second to the President and will always be in be charge when the President is away.
“Even if he [Mugabe] stops being President, the Constitution is clear that the VP will hold the reins. I will not be President because I sleep in the same bed and eat with him. I am an educated person and I have a doctorate. I know how our party constitution works,” she said much to the amusement of Mnangagwa’s allies, particularly Gokwe-Nembudziya MP, Justice Mayor Wadyajena, who celebrated uncontrollably.
The G40 group, said to be led by Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, is reportedly fighting hard to block Mnangagwa’s rise to succeed Mugabe as the 91-year-old leader gingerly walks into the sunset of his half-a-century political career.
In endorsing Mnangagwa’s leadership, Grace said the VP’s liberation struggle credentials and loyalty to Mugabe were impeccable and “he is a good man”.
She castigated those pushing an agenda to catapult her into the Presidium at the Zanu PF conference next month as non-progressive elements, who were bent on destroying the party.
“They said I was giving instructions to the two VPs yet I talk to them as the leader of the women’s league and they listen because I will only be reporting to my seniors the problems of the people and as servants of the people they listen,” she said.
Grace went further to say Mnangagwa was second to Mugabe, leaving Mphoko with egg on his face before he left the stage in a huff, reportedly for security reasons.
Mphoko, who has largely become Grace’s chief aide introducing the First Lady at most of her rallies, suffered two embarrassing moments during the rally after he was called “Mboko”, a derogatory Shona word for “fool”, by Midlands acting vice-chairman Kizito Chivamba.
Mphoko did not take it kindly and called Chivamba on stage and told him before a bemused crowd that he did not merit his position.
“You do not deserve to be party chairman — I am serious about this. You called me ‘Mboko’, when my name is Mphoko. Do you know what that means? Do you speak Shona properly?” he said, while holding Chivamba by the shoulders.
Grace then handed Mphoko another blow when she asked him why he did not know her totem.
“You taught us today that people can be disciplined in public, so let me also discipline you. How come you don’t know my totem up to this time? I am of the Shoko (monkey) clan,” she said jokingly to the amusement of the crowd.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba said Mphoko had to leave early since he had come by road and because of security reasons he had to leave before the function was over.
Grace travelled to the venue accompanied by Mnangagwa in the presidential helicopter, while Mphoko went by road.
Thousands of people attended the rally after being bussed from as far as Kwekwe, some 350km away, to brave the heat with temperatures soaring to over 38 degrees.
Police had to be called for crowd control, as people began to walk away while Grace was still addressing party supporters.