ZIMBABWE – HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has derided controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe saying he would not “sink so low” as to allow himself to contest against her in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 presidential election.
Tsvangirai’s dim view of Grace follows growing suggestions that she, together with embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa are the two post-congress Zanu PF candidates most likely to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
The former prime minister in the government of national unity told scores of his party supporters in Hurungwe that he would rather pull out of the 2018 elections than compete against Grace.
“Ndoda kuti mundiudzewo varume vakuru nevakadzi vakuru mungaenda kunovhotera Grace? Ini zvechokwadi, I will not contest her (Tell me ladies and gentlemen, can you queue to vote for Grace? I will not contest in such an election),” Tsvangirai said with disdain, to much laughter.
The veteran opposition leader is on record urging his former inclusive government partner, Mugabe, to pass on the leadership baton to a younger successor.
Since taking over as the Zanu PF women’s league boss last year, Grace has been traversing the length and breadth of the country, trashing her political foes and dolling out freebies to Zanu PF supporters, including agricultural equipment sourced by the government from Brazil, in a move that observers say is a clear indication of her ambitions to become president of Zimbabwe.
The First Lady has also said that she has a democratic right to aspire for the highest office in the land, something that is now being actively encouraged by her supporters, primarily the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) camp.
Tsvangirai also said that instead of obsessing about its factional and succession wars, Zanu PF should focus on bread and butter issues to save the nation from their disastrous rule.
“Opposition parties must unite so that we can create a conducive environment for free and fair elections,” Tsvangirai said.
With the country’s economy nose-diving and showing no signs of immediate recovery, Tsvangirai also said the problem that Zimbabwe was faced with was no longer simply about removing Mugabe from power because “we know that Mugabe is about to go, but we must look at the economic challenges that are being faced by the nation”.
His spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said his boss would hold other rallies at Alaska in Chinhoyi on Friday and at Dombwe in Chegutu East on Saturday, before winding up his visit to the province on Sunday at Cassa Grounds in Zvimba East.
“The president’s continued engagement with Zimbabweans comes at a time when the political and economic situation in the country is deteriorating at an alarming rate.
“Zimbabweans can barely survive, with the party in government more worried about succession battles at the expense of finding a solution to the worsening crisis.
“In Mashonaland West, the president will talk about the crisis as well as the MDC’s proposed solutions to the national predicament, including Zanu PF’s failure to come up with a sustainable solution to power shortages characterised by 20-hour blackouts every day,” Tamborinyoka said.