Instead, Grace seemed to exonerate Mnangagwa and his counterpart Phelekezela Mphoko from claims of backbiting, with analysts saying the First Lady may have been literally forced to eat her words.Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst, said Grace could have now realised that her statements in Binga claiming Mnangagwa was eyeing the Presidency could have destabilised the system, resulting in her backtracking.While Grace said she was not eyeing the presidency, Mandaza said she was powerful and was acting as the President, making it likely that she was not sincere when she said she did not harbour any Presidential ambitions.
“She doesn’t want to be President ,but as it stands, she is like a President,” Mandaza said.
“Isn’t it she said the two VPs take notes from her?
“She is in the same position with the President currently and also, she could have been backtracking from her earlier statements that seemed to have been targeted at Mnangagwa in Binga recently.”
In her speech at the Zanu PF Women’s League meeting on Thursday, Grace said the claims of a succession battle between Mnangagwa and Mphoko were merely baseless rumour-mongering by people in the party, as both were not eyeing the post.
“We went for elections in 2013 and we voted for one President,” Grace was quoted saying. That is the one centre of power that we recognise.
“A lot of things are being said including that the First Lady wants to be the leader. But I said in no uncertain terms that I do not harbour any presidential ambitions.
“Even the names of the Vice-Presidents are continuously mentioned, with people soiling their names.
“But I want to defend Mnangagwa and say that he has never said anything to that effect. I can also vouch for Mphoko.”
Political analyst Gladys Hlatshwayo said Grace’s statements revealed she only wanted to perpetuate her husband President Robert Mugabe’s rule as well as protect her future in the post-Mugabe era.
“The utterances by Grace are meant to perpetuate Mugabe’s rule until donkeys grow horns,” Hlatshwayo said.
“The remarks are a clear indication that Mugabe intends to rule for life.
“The succession issue is potentially explosive and one that can aggravate instability in the country.
“What she is merely saying is that in any case, she is better off with her husband as the President no matter his advanced age.”
Takura Zhangazha, a political analyst, said the First Lady was not being sincere in absolving the two Vice-Presidents, claiming they had never said they were ambitious enough to take over the Presidency.
“To say that they have no ambitions to be presidents when they are deputy presidents is very untrue,” he opined.
“One does not become a deputy without ambitions to become President.
“No one is VP to remain VP.
“We know that there are fights and factionalism in Zanu PF and maybe Grace’s statement is just trying to contain those fights.”
Another analyst Alexander Rusero said Grace was only trying to cleanse her image and that of the VPs in the party.
“She is trying to cleanse her image and that of the VPs. She is trying to play it safe given the dangerous Zanu PF politics,” Rusero said.
“You can’t be content when you are VP and say you don’t harbour ambitions to lead one day.
“The nature of Zanu PF politics is you don’t have to appear ambitious or else you go the (former Vice-President Joice) Mujuru way.”
Llyod Sachikonye said it was very strange that a country could spend time focusing on succession issues without addressing them.
“If you look at the past 15 years, a lot of Zimbabwean politics has been revolving around succession issues. It’s strange,” he said.
“All our neighbouring countries have had smooth succession of presidents, even those under national liberation movements like the ANC (African National Congress) in South Africa, Swapo (South West Africa People’s Organisation) in Namibia and Frelimo (Mozambique Liberation Front) in Mozambique as well,” he said.
Sachikonye said it was only in Zimbabwe and Angola where succession was about personality issues and where there was unwillingness to abide by the Constitution.