ZIMBABWE – First Lady Grace Mugabe yesterday declined a handshake from Vice President Dr Joice Mujuru at the Harare International Airport in the wake the serious allegations of corruption, subversion and abuse of office levelled against the VP.
Dr Mujuru was at the airport together with various senior Government officials to welcome President Mugabe and his delegation on their return from Italy where they witnessed the beatification of Pope Paul VI at the Vatican.
This was the second time the First Lady snubbed VP Mujuru after also not shaking her hand when they were preparing to leave for Italy on Friday night. The snub clearly indicated that all is not well for VP Mujuru, with a Politburo meeting set for tomorrow expected to discuss her wayward behaviour that has reportedly riled President Mugabe.
This came as Zanu-PF Harare provincial executive leaders hired five kombis yesterday with activists and members of the Mbare Chimurenga Choir to demonstrate against the First Lady at the airport for her revelations on VP Mujuru’s shenanigans. Zanu-PF Politburo member Tendai Savanhu, provincial chairman Amos Midzi and two other provincial executive members Cdes Christopher Chigumba and Noah Mangondo hired the kombis.
Their plan flopped after vigilant security details thwarted the intended demonstration by stopping them from accessing the VIP enclosure.
The youths were wielding placards with messages like: “Tichapedzerana (we will sort you out)”, “Dirai Rese Gamatox (intensify the poison)”, “Pasi nemakuhwa (down with gossip)” and “NaJonso Tichapedzerana (We will deal with Jonso – colloquial for Prof Jonathan Moyo)”.
Inside the airport, upon his arrival President Mugabe greeted VP Mujuru, Senior Minister of State in the Office of the President and Cabinet Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, Harare Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa, among other officials.
The First Lady, who was following behind the President, ignored VP Mujuru’s offer of a handshake and instead greeted Cde Khaya Moyo, who was next to her and other officials. After greeting the other waiting officials, Amai Mugabe started chatting with Cde Khaya Moyo, while President Mugabe conversed with VP Mujuru, after which he talked briefly with service chiefs.
Outside the domestic terminal, the hired Zanu-PF supporters were denied entry into the security zone and could be seen milling around in the airport car park after the President had left. Midzi, Savanhu, Mangondo and Chigumba, and Harare provincial Women’s League chairperson Cde Angeline Matambanadzo were present at the airport.
Midzi was not picking up his phone yesterday, but Savanhu attempted to distance himself from the plan to demonstrate against the First Lady. “Do you think that is possible,” he said. “Would the country’s security just fold its arms and allow that to happen. Harare province organised a successful rally for the First Lady two weeks ago where she even united people. Why then would we want to demonstrate against her?”. Savanhu said Zanu-PF supporters were not able to meet President Mugabe after being advised that the Vatican visit was a private visit.
He said the communication came late after people had already been told that they should go to the airport early in the morning.
“We know that there are some people who are pushing their agendas to try and tarnish our names,” he said. “We now no longer lose sleep over that. Tava kungotarisa zvedu tichiti nyorai zvenyu zvamunoda.”
Amai Mugabe has been unequivocal in condemning factionalism during her “Meet the People” rallies that ended last week.
At a rally in Mashonaland Central province on Thursday last week, Grace said President Mugabe was fed up with VP Mujuru’s behaviour and advised her to apologise to him or risk the boot.
At another rally in Mashonaland East, Mugabe said opposition parties like MDC-T and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn as well as corruption and factionalism were mooted at VP Mujuru’s house. Mugabe rapped Zanu-PF provincial chairperson for Mashonaland East Cde Ray Kaukonde for being the main funder of factionalism in the party and for being deceitful in wearing a fake smile.
A Politburo meeting set for tomorrow is expected to discuss how to deal with the revelations on VP Mujuru’s actions. Party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo has since confirmed that the allegations raised by the First Lady were too serious and could not be ignored by the Politburo.