ZIMBABWE – ZANU PF has all but confirmed First Lady Grace Mugabe is in charge of the party using powers vested in her by virtue of being President Robert Mugabe’s wife, buttressing remarks of a “bedroom coup” made by former war veteran’s leader Jabulani Sibanda last year.
Sibanda’s remarks cost him the position of war veteran’s leader and he was subsequently fired from Zanu PF before being dragged before the courts for his utterances.
Speaking while introducing Grace to Zanu PF supporters in Rushinga on Wednesday, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko unwittingly confirmed that Grace’s powers were by virtue of her being Mugabe’s wife.
Mphoko has been taking the role of introducing Grace at her rallies, a development that sparked seniority questions, which the VP explained by saying the First Lady was — on account of her being the President’s wife — more senior than both VPs and everybody else in the party and government except her husband.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba also said in an interview with the State media that Grace’s powers were by virtue of her being Mugabe’s wife.
Charamba said this while denying that Zanu PF was faction-riddled and that Grace was a leader of a faction.
While admitting to dog fights in Zanu PF, Charamba exonerated Grace from factional politics, saying she already had the powers.
“You are in the crown, you are the crown. Then you organise against it? Does that make sense to you?” Charamba queried.
Sibanda last week said what Mphoko and Charamba said centred on what he had said before and was arrested.
“The matter is still before the courts, so I will not comment. I don’t know the circumstances he was saying so, but he says crown. Are we run by a monarchy?” asked the former war vets leader.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said Mphoko and Charamba had all but confirmed Sibanda’s observation.
“Sibanda touched a raw nerve when he said Grace was imposing herself on Zanu PF using her bedroom powers and interestingly, Mphoko and Charamba have confirmed it,” Ngwenya said.
“There is nowhere in the Zanu PF constitution that says Grace should be saluted because she is the First Lady or women’s affairs boss.”
Another political analyst Takura Zhangazha said he did not think that Charamba was referring to a bedroom coup, “but by implication, the inference is that the First Lady is literally up there in the power dynamics of Zanu PF with the president.”
Said Zhangazha: “In relation to her taking over the running of the party, that can only be by default and not in terms of the procedures of their party’s constitution.”
Publisher and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said Charamba’s statements confirmed that Grace was now in charge.
“He [Charamba] said she [Grace] is the crown and he did not make any distinction between her and Mugabe. Charamba is correct, Grace is above factions. She is in charge,” Mandaza said.
Since the purging of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and several party heavyweights on allegations of plotting to unseat Mugabe, Grace has been flexing her powers in the party with several senior party officials stampeding to bootlick her.
In another display of power, Grace revealed earlier this year that she gives VP Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mphoko direction on how to run their government work.
Last week, the First Lady also stated that she was the referee in Zanu PF who could decide who was wrong or right and, therefore, could show anybody the “red card”.
According to the Zanu PF hierarchy, however, Grace, as the party’s Women’s league boss, should rank a distant 15th position.