FORMER First Lady Grace Mugabe’s stunning summersault from being a critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to a “prayer warrior” for the new Zanu PF leader has attracted the scorn of one of her ardent supporters, former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Moyo, a vital cog in Zanu PF’s G40 faction before the fall of former President Robert Mugabe from power in November last year, yesterday issued a stinging rebuke of Grace, describing her as “a toxic political amateur”.
The former minister said, however, he still had high regard for Mugabe as well as respect for Grace, but only because she was wife to “an iconic leader”.
“Reasonable people, more so among Africans, understand only too well that when we extend our respect for our national leaders to their spouses; that does not mean we are extending leadership qualities or responsibilities to the spouses.
“It is news to me that Mrs Mugabe has followers. I consider it an insult that some circles, especially in the media, refer to some leaders who worked with and supported President Mugabe as followers of Mrs Mugabe.
That’s not only false, but it is also nonsensical. Mrs Mugabe cannot be a leader simply because she’s the spouse of our iconic leader,” Moyo said in a statement e-mailed to the media.
The former minister also claimed Grace had shut him out after a fall-out over her ambitions to lead the National Patriotic Front (NPF), a political party founded by G40 lieutenants.
The party secured one seat, Kwekwe Central, in the July 30 harmonised elections.
“Otherwise I wish I had been able to convey my condolences privately and directly to Mrs Mugabe, but, alas, I was not able to do so after she blocked me from all communication contacts with her on June 10 2018.
“She did this in an angry response to advice I had respectfully and privately offered to her in writing, against her toxic and polarising wishes to lead NPF in general and, in particular, against her then active, but divisive push to be seconded by the NPF as a vice-president in what had been proposed as a grand national union (GNU) of opposition forces ahead of the July 30 election,” Moyo claimed, adding his contact with Grace prior to June was “slim”.
NPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire also reacted angrily to Moyo’s statement and claims.
“In fact, Jonathan (Moyo) knows the truth that he unsuccessfully tried to persuade Mai Mugabe not to be NPF vice-president, but to be president.
He also knows that he tried and failed to make President Mugabe and Mai Mugabe fund NPF because they had read that he had put in place mechanisms to raise money using the NPF project for personal gain,” he said.
Mawarire added that Moyo had established an elaborate plan to benefit financially from the political project that seems to have hit a tidal wave.
“Moyo had an intricate team within Zimbabwe through which he was going to get the money.
They (Mugabes) could see that he wanted to use them and they flatly refused to fund or be members of NPF.
“He (Moyo) knows pretty well that at no point did Mai Mugabe want to be president of NPF.
He is angry because he could not make money using them.
He had this lousy idea about an online publication, a gamut of trolls controlled by his acolytes in Zimbabwe for which he was brandishing about a $1 million budget that he wanted to loot,” Mawarire said.
Moyo also pilloried Grace on her claim that she was the biggest casualty of the coup, saying her utterances were insensitive to the real “victims”.
“They (sentiments) are unfortunate because they are false and insensitive.
People who are national leaders or who aspire for national leadership must, above everything else, be truthful and sensitive.
“It is an absurd corruption of public morality, values and ethos for Mrs Mugabe to claim that Mnangagwa’s gesture to hire a fancy private plane to fly her from Singapore and to pay for her mother’s funeral constitutes a political paradigm for the country to move on,” he said.
This was in apparent reference to her recent remarks where she told mourners following the death of her mother — to “move on” following the November coup that brought her husband’s 37-year rule to an end.
“Even worse, it is shocking to hear that Mrs Mugabe claims to be the one person who was affected the most by the November military coup.
Honestly? On what basis does she make this insensitive claim?
Is she aware what happened to Ignatius Chombo and his wife?
Is she aware what happened to Kudzai Chipanga?
Is she aware what happened to thousands and thousands of Zimbabweans who were internally and externally displaced?
“Mrs Mugabe can move on with Mnangagwa, but the people are not going to be part of that movement.
The people are moving in a different direction. Their vote was stolen.”
On the eve of the general elections in July, Grace was by Mugabe’s side when the former leader announced he was backing opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa and would not vote for “my tormentors” in reference to Mnangagwa.
Mawarire also accused Moyo of extortion by soliciting for donations under the guise that he wanted to help pay Chamisa’s legal fees accrued during the Constitutional Court case.
“He is busy extorting money claiming he wants to help pay Chamisa’s legal fees when we all know that the MDC Alliance has a separate campaign for this purpose and the lawyers who represented them in the ConCourt challenge were working on a pro-bono basis,” he said.