FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe yesterday further confirmed there are factions in Zanu PF which she said are tearing the ruling party apart. This came despite strenuous and occasionally menacing denials by senior government and party officials who claim internal battles over President Robert Mugabe succession were triggered by personality clashes than factionalism which they allege is a figment of the private media’s imagination.
Addressing a crowd of party supporters that thronged the open space near Rufaro Stadium in Harare’s impoverished Mbare high-density suburb, Grace said the truth of the matter is that “factionalism is there in Zanu PF; it’s a no-brainer, factionalism is there”.
“Those who are engaging in factionalism know themselves. So I rebuked some of them and after that they went and told other war veterans. I rebuked them and said to them you can’t be engaging in such practices, holding people to ransom and refusing to be corrected just because you are a war veteran. I said no,” said Grace without disclosing names.
Grace’s admissions come in the wake of repeated denials over factionalism by party officials, including Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, who claimed last month that there were no factions in Zanu PF post-December 2014 congress but just personality clashes.
However, Grace bemoaned the impact of the infighting saying: “People here are suffering while we fight for positions in the party. Let me tell you I’m standing before you as the wife of your President who has been chosen to lead the Women’s League and that is all there is to it. That’s where I end, full stop, I want nothing else”.
Grace denied she had any ill-feelings towards war veterans, saying: “I stay with the biggest hero in my house. My husband spent 11 years in jail and when his son died, he was denied permission to mourn and bury him.”
“My own sibling (Reward Marufu) was a war veteran who died in 2010. He fought in the war and there isn’t anyone who doesn’t know that. Some of you were even trained by my mother’s son and now it’s said I hate war veterans.”
Grace’s speech, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes, was generally conciliatory. Grace also appealed to residents to “forgive” Mbare legislator Tendai Savanhu for his dalliances with ousted former vice-president Joice Mujuru. She also reached out to journalists from the Zimbabwe Independent, NewsDay and Daily News, describing them as her children who miss her when she is not around.
“Muri vana vangu, ndinokudai (you are my children, I love you) I will continue to speak and you continue to write,” said Grace.