ZIMBABWE – After fronting the brutal purging of former Vice
President Joice Mujuru and other stalwarts in the warring Zanu PF last
year, and swiftly moving to become arguably the single most powerful
person in the country, the political tide appears to be turning against
controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe.
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told on Sunday
yesterday that Grace’s “desperate attempts” over the past few days to
placate Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his counterpart
Phelekezela Mphoko, as well as her move to play down the ruling party’s
worsening factional and succession wars, showed that she was “feeling
“The problem is that Amai (Grace) is out of her depth in politics, and
never appeared to have a cogent plan from day one, other than her public
agenda to destroy Mai Mujuru and protect her business interests. Now
she is running out of oxygen, hence all the desperation to reverse gear
on many fronts.
“It has not helped that ambitious and destructive elements within the
Gang of Four and the broader G40 (Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks) group
moved very quickly earlier on to abuse her and take advantage of her
evident political naivety. It’s a disaster,” a long-serving ruling party
Another official scathingly described Grace as “the epicentre of
anarchy” and “the grand mistress of gossip and confusion” in the party,
in the wake of her continuing flip-flopping over the existence, causes
and alleged instigators of the ruling party’s deepening infighting.
“For too long, many pretended that all was well and hoped that Amai
(Grace) would ultimately come to her senses. But that is clearly a pipe
dream and things are getting worse. She is the epicentre of the anarchy
and also the grand mistress of gossip and confusion in the party.
Clearly, she will not rest until the party is completely destroyed.
“I honestly sympathise with the president who has the difficult and
unenviable task of always having to clean up her vomit, as if managing
the raging factionalism is not a big job enough already. Honestly, when
will this chaos stop and who will stop it,” he said.
But observers say it is not only Grace who is reeling under political
pressure, pointing to Mugabe’s recent utterances in which he has
insulted both the dead and the living as also betraying the fact that he
was battling to keep his party’s ugly infighting under control.
As a result, liberation struggle stalwarts yesterday accused the
nonagenarian of being trapped in “a time warp” — with his continuous
attacks on the late struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru, particularly
displeasing many war veterans.
Even though it is four years since the late General Mujuru’s remains
were discovered after a mysterious fire at his Beatrice farm, his name
remains one of the most talked about within Zanu PF’s corridors of power
— with his widow, former Vice President Joice Mujuru, continuing to be a
subject of much vilification and derision among senior officials of the
On Friday, Mugabe once again attacked the late general, accusing the
man credited with catapulting the nonagenarian to the leadership of Zanu
PF of having allegedly worked in cahoots with Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD)
leader Simba Makoni and respected academic, Ibbo Mandaza, to remove him
Addressing the Women’s League in Harare, Mugabe claimed that the trio
of General Mujuru, Mandaza and Makoni had hatched a plan to have Zanu PF
legislators winning elections and him losing the 2008 presidential
But speaking in separate interviews with the Daily News on Sunday
yesterday, both Mandaza and Makoni dismissed Mugabe’s assertions, saying
they were baseless. Mandaza, who has intimate knowledge of the ruling
party and its senior officials, said Mugabe’s fixation with the 2008
election defeat was shocking.
“I don’t know what he is talking about. The election was a contest in
which Makoni was a presidential candidate and obviously, the intention
was to beat Mugabe, and he (Mugabe) lost the first round.
“He thinks it’s heresy for him to be contested when it is clear that
the majority in his party and the country know that he has overstayed
and should go,” he said.
Asked why Mugabe now had the nerve to question General Mujuru’s track
record, Mandaza said the fallen war hero was “always the only one” who
had the guts to challenge the nonagenarian before he died.
“This betrays that they (Zanu PF) always believed that he was a thorn
in the flesh, but he was a hero and that cannot be debated. Mujuru’s
only problem was that he demanded that Mugabe should go, and to Mugabe
that is a crime,” Mandaza added.
On his part, Makoni chose to say, “vanongorotomoka vadhara vacho (the old man is notorious for speaking without thinking)”.
Ironically and despite now bad-mouthing him to no end, Mugabe and Zanu
PF unanimously declared him a national hero when he died in 2011, with
his massive funeral attracting the biggest crowd ever witnessed at the
National Heroes Acre. At the time, nothing negative was said about him
and his alleged misdemeanours.
Outspoken war veteran, Margaret Dongo, waded into the matter yesterday,
telling the Daily News on Sunday that Mugabe was “well-known” for being
scared of the late Mujuru before his death, whose war nom de guerre was
“There is no reason to continue talking about munhu akafa kare, (a
person who passed away a long time ago). Mujuru is haunting him. Mugabe
feared Mujuru because he knows that he is president because of that
man,” she said.
Zanu PF veterans have repeatedly pointed out that it was on Mujuru’s
insistence that Mugabe became the party’s leader in 1977, after much
resistance from many guerrillas to have the former schoolteacher
installed as their president as they did not trust him.
They also say General Mujuru continued to exert his influence on Mugabe
and Zanu PF after independence, to the extent that it is widely
believed that it was beacause of him that the nonagenarian frustrated
the ascendancy of VP Emmerson Mnangagwa to the post in 2004, nudging him
to pick his wife Joice.
“Mugabe is not comfortable with the name Mujuru. Now he is talking
about the wife, an innocent cadre who was victimised. Mujuru wanted him
(Mugabe) gone and he was fed up because these people had failed him and
this has nothing to do with ideology.
“At any rate, where is the so-called socialism ideology when there is
rampant corruption and suffering in the country? These people are
stealing, and why should he blame Mujuru for his dismal performance with
regard to running the economy,” Dongo said.
The spokesperson of the “original” Zanu PF (People First), Rugare
Gumbo, said it was “tragic that a whole president is trapped in the
past”. “It is unfortunate and tragic that the president is always
talking about the past, although this is expected because when someone
gets old, he only thinks about the past. But Zimbabweans are saying
let’s focus on reviving the dying economy,” he said.
“As People First, we don’t want one centre of power, we want team work.
We also believe in office terms. It now seems as though Mugabe
nemudzimai wake ndivo vavakutonga chete (Mugabe and his wife are
governing the country on their own). Is this democracy?
“However, they are wasting their time because Grace will not win
anything (presumably after Mugabe’s time in office),” Gumbo said.