PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe (93) needs to rein in his wife, Grace, and stop her from usurping executive powers, opposition parties and analysts have said.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Grace has virtually been worming her way into executive functions, including publicly ridiculing public servants as well as donating State-sourced farming inputs to Zanu PF members, in the process raising the ire of opposition forces.
Former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman and current Norton lawmaker Temba Mliswa (independent) told journalists at the weekend that Grace had no business in executive functions.
“The President must zero in on First Lady Grace Mugabe, who must not be involved in executive issues,” he said.
“Executive issues are issues of the executive and not the First Lady.
“There should be a separation of powers and as a legislator, I get disappointed when the First Lady gets herself involved in issues of the executive. The executive powers are with the President.”
Mliswa said it was sad that Grace was making statements on behalf of the executive.
“When the First Lady speaks now, it is as good as the President is speaking because the President has not been able to control her,” he said. “That is something that is rather sad for this country. Mugabe must stop the rot.”
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said Grace’s role in Zimbabwe’s political discourse may not be peculiar to Zimbabwe, but still posed a danger to the country’s stability.
“Everywhere the role of policymaking is divided between official and unofficial characters and in our case this becomes more pronounced because there are gaps and a vacuum in the governance system that the informal actors like the First Lady and her cohorts have taken advantage of because of their proximity to power.
“Grace has taken over those unoccupied spaces and basically this seems to be by default.
“She has become very influential, but this is dangerous because the roles she is taking charge of are constitutionally created for specific individuals,” he said.
Zimbabwe Peace Trust executive director Trust Mamombe said Mugabe’s age and Grace’s public pronouncements were a cause for national concern.
“In the interest of positive peace, the President’s age and, therefore, the inescapable role of the First Lady have become an issue of concern to all right-minded Zimbabweans,” he said.
“Before we even do any analysis on the suitability of the First Lady to support the President in the discharge of his duties, it is disconcerting and unsettling to imagine the unacceptability of anyone deliberately abusing any aged citizen for their own gain and later on a head of State and government.”
People’s Democratic Party secretary-general Gorden Moyo said Zimbabwe was now embroiled in a cycle of captivity.
“The State has long been captured. First, Mugabe captured Zanu PF, then Zanu PF captured the State,” he said.
“However, Grace has since captured the captor – that is Mugabe.
“An electoral revolution is the answer. Zimbabweans from all political hues must come together under an umbrella grand coalition and fight this monster.”
Grace made pronouncements in cases that are pending in the courts reportedly declaring that charges against Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo were cooked up.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said Grace was taking advantage of Mugabe’s age and growing disconnection with what is happening around him.
“She is the executive, the paramount minister in government, the pseudo-first secretary in Zanu PF, and an in charge apparent as we speak,”
“Mugabe is now time-worn and does not fully fathom what’s happening around him. This is expected of old age.”
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu agreed.
“Grace is the de facto Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and it appears all the Zanu PF Cabinet ministers are reporting to her,” he said. “She is taking advantage of her husband’s advanced age. This is some form of State capture.
“It’s an extremely sad and dangerous scenario for our national security. She has got to be reined in as a matter of urgency.
“She has got absolutely no basis to act as a member of the executive arm of the State.”
Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP) also weighed in.
“It is clear Grace is calling the shots on the day-to-day running of government. It’s a matter of public record that Grace chides ministers, permanent secretaries and Vice-Presidents of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
“This demonstrates that Mugabe is now failing to discharge his duties as President of the country and, as such, he is a fitting candidate for impeachment,” NPP secretary-general Gift Nyandoro said.
Grace humiliated Information ministry permanent secretary George Charamba at a Zanu PF rally last month, accusing him of abusing his position to push a factional agenda.
On the other hand, since independence, Zanu PF has insisted that the government is subservient to the party.