ZANU PF Masvingo province has moved to block machinations within the party to have First Lady Grace Mugabe take over from her ageing husband, saying she must confine herself to being the party’s Women’s League boss.
BY TATENDA CHITAGU/XOLISANI NCUBE
Grace, who is said to be harbouring presidential ambitions, a claim she has since dismissed, did not get any support for her bid from the provincial inter-district meeting held over the weekend in Masvingo, as the province resolved to support President Robert Mugabe to be the party’s sole candidate for the 2018 elections.
Speaking at the inter-district meeting held at Masvingo Teachers’ College, Provincial Affairs minister and party politburo member Shuvai Mahofa said as a province, they were rallying behind Mugabe and warned those pushing for his wife to take over to remember Grace was just the Women’s League boss.
“There are some in the party who want to tarnish the image of the First Lady and trying to destroy Zanu PF in the Press by linking her to some posts. We chose the First Lady as leader of the Women’s League,” Mahofa said.
“We have one centre of power in Zanu PF namely Baba VaMugabe, yet others say they want to replace him with someone.
Makambozvionepi izvozvo? (Where have you seen that happen?) To those who are doing it, I say: ‘Stop it’!” Mahofa said much to the applause of the delegates.
The resolution by Masvingo province comes as the Women’s League in Mashonaland West province reportedly moved a motion for a woman to be included in the presidium, a development which could put the First Lady among the front runners if adopted at the party’s conference next month.
But Mahofa’s statement warned any attempts from those backing Grace for the top job to stay-off, as they recognised her just as the Women’s League leader in the party.
The Zanu PF inter-district conference said it recognised the national party leadership as it stands with Mugabe as the leader, assisted by Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as Vice-Presidents.
This could be interpreted as victory for Mnangagwa, who appears to be heir-apparent to Mugabe.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, who was the guest of honour at the meeting, said the party was not turning its annual conference into a congress, as Mugabe still had five years to lead Zanu PF before the next elections.
“We are going for the national people’s conference (in December), and not a congress. We gave the President a-five year tenure.
So he is still in charge. He is the one chosen by the people at the last congress,” Chombo said.
“All others were appointed by the President, including Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mphoko, myself and everyone with leadership positions. We should all work hard so that we can be re-appointed. The President has the prerogative to appoint and disappoint.”
In Mashonaland East, the provincial co-ordinating committee also met over the weekend and endorsed Mugabe as the party’s candidate for 2018, closing any hopes for the First Lady.
Last week, the Harare Youth League resolved to back the 91-year-old leader for the 2018 elections by endorsing the party’s current leadership.
Since her entry into mainstream politics last year as secretary for Women’s League, Grace has caused anxiety within the party, with some linking her to the presidency.
Grace has had a tough going, as some provinces have allegedly refused to accept a move by some people to have her take over from her husband and instead are said to be supporting Mnangagwa.
Due to machinations by some in the ruling party to propel Grace to the top post, some provincial executive members have been voted out of their positions for allegedly resisting her leadership, while others have been kicked out of the party and some have even lost ministerial posts.
In Manicaland, the provincial women’s league chairperson, Happiness Nyakuedzwa’s political career is hanging by a thread, as she is accused of disrespecting Grace.
Mashonaland East chairman Joel Biggie Matiza survived a vote-of-no-confidence at the last minute as he was accused of working for the ascendency of Mnangagwa to the throne.
In Midlands, the acting provincial chair, Kizito Chivamba, is reportedly facing the axe for allegedly discouraging party members from attending Grace’s rallies and backing the Mnangagwa camp instead.