Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association national executive member Francis Zimuto, whose Chimurenga nom de guerre was Black Jesus, has dared First Lady Grace Mugabe, telling her she was just a “young girl”, whose behaviour was “unmotherly” and in sharp contrast to her predecessor, the late Sally.
BY STAFF REPORTERS
Zimuto said Grace should “ship out and go home to cook for her husband, instead of meddling with the army, war veterans and the party”.
“We all know what is killing our party, but most are afraid to say it. But some of us are war veterans and will say it as it is,” Zimuto said.
“The late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s wife was an orderly woman, even the late Vice-President Simon Muzenda’s wife, Maud, is very humble and you would not think she was married to someone who was second-in-charge of the country.
“We had President [Robert] Mugabe’s first wife, Sally, who was very down-to-earth and died like that. Why is she (Grace) challenging the powers of our President in public?”
Zimuto told a Zanu PF provincial co-ordinating committee meeting: “Tell her that, ‘Mother, go home, sit down and cook for your husband’. We expect that someone who is the President’s wife should behave motherly. When I look at Grace, she is a young girl, calling her First Lady is not our culture because she is even younger than me. Young girl, you got it wrong.”
Zimuto said Zanu PF and war veterans were inseparable.
“We should not be afraid of her, but respect her. I am like a first born to Mugabe,” he continued.
“You hear people singing Zezuru unconquerable, and she is clapping, where do you get it from? A First Lady dancing to tribalistic tunes, have you ever heard of things like that? Is it a crime that I was born in Masvingo? I did not apply to be born in Masvingo. What of others who were born mid-air in airplanes?”
This sets the stage for a bruising showdown between two rival Zanu PF factions after both sides yesterday said they were spoiling for a fight, amid fears the clashes could degenerate into civil unrest.
Tension between the two factions — the ambitious G40, believed to be aligned to First Lady Grace, and another sympathetic to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa — heightened last Friday when Grace publicly accused the VP of plotting Mugabe’s ouster.
This came as Mnangagwa’s supporters, comprising Masvingo war veterans and the Save Zanu PF Campaign group, urged Grace to be content with being Mugabe’s wife and Women’s League secretary and stop meddling in issues outside her jurisdiction.
Addressing journalists in the capital yesterday, Save Zanu PF Campaign national co-ordinator Godfrey Tsenengamu challenged Grace to stop abusing her position as Women’s League secretary to publicly dress down senior party officials.
“Don’t force us to confront you as a politician that you have become and as secretary for women’s affairs, for it is that position that is giving you the right to address party gatherings and not because you are the President’s wife,” he said.
“This is not a threat, but a promise and you know we can do that and we expect change at your next rally.”
Tsenengamu accused Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere of misleading Grace and fanning factionalism.
“We love you (Grace) and genuinely support you as our secretary for women’s affairs in the party and pledge our genuine support for the Women’s League of the party Zanu PF,” he said.
“Without saying much, can you be reminded that you are not the party or a State authority, as you claimed at your rally in Chiweshe recently, because in 2013, we elected President Robert Mugabe to the office of the State Presidency.
“At the party congress in December 2014, we elected President Mugabe to be the party president and first secretary and you as secretary for women’s affairs and that authority vested in the President in either capacities, as the one centre of power cannot be abused by a mere secretary for women’s affairs.
“A doctor’s wife is not a doctor and cannot undertake surgical operations, just as the kombi driver’s wife cannot use her husband’s driving licence to drive on (public) roads.”
But in Mutare, Zanu PF deputy youth secretary Kudzai Chipanga said his charges were ready for a fight with war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa’s group and party youths sympathetic to Mnangagwa’s faction.
Chipanga told party youths in Mutare that he was ready to take the fight to War Veterans minister Mutsvangwa and his followers’ doorsteps if they continued savaging Grace.
“If we say let’s go to war today, how many war veterans are there? They are very few. We constitute 65% of this country, but there are two people who are intimidating us,” Chipanga said, describing Mutsvangwa and war veterans secretary-general Victor Matemadanda as “sickening rabble-rousers”.
“It’s high time for youths to put your structures in order to defend the President. So be ready, and we are going to call you when the time comes. Who are Mutsvangwa and Matemadanda? They are not going to do anything, we will give them a 100-metre race and they will fail to run. They are sick with sugar (diabetes) (sic).”
Manicaland acting youth chairman Mubuso Chinguno also said they were ready to defend Grace and threatened unspecified action on party youths sympathetic to the Mnangagwa faction.
In a related matter, Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene, who claimed she had assumed the war veterans’ top post after reportedly ousting Mutsvangwa, addressed a Press conference in the capital, where she accused her predecessor Mutsvangwa and his executive of planning to bus in people to Harare to demonstrate against their ouster.