PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace yesterday went on a war path indirectly attacking Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her allies, while aggressively announcing her readiness to enter mainstream politics as leader of the Zanu PF Women’s League ahead of the party congress in December.
If there were any doubts that Grace is coming in as the Women’s League boss to try to derail Mujuru’s ascendancy to the presidency after Mugabe, it became evident yesterday when she made statements attacking the Vice-President as she threatened to deal with those opposed to her nomination and who pose danger to her family and business interests.
Grace’s manoeuvres in the run-up to the Youth League conference today and the Women’s League assembly next week seem calculated to shipwreck Mujuru, while apparently propelling her bitter rival, Zanu PF heavyweight and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in the race to replace Mugabe.
Looking angry and aggressive, Grace also threatened those involved in factionalism, saying those who will ignore her warning would be “playing with fire” during an address to thousands of youths and women at her farm in Mazowe. The youths, who chanted war cries during her confrontational speech, had converged to show solidarity over her nomination to the helm of the Women’s League.
Current Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri, who is spearheading the campaign to elevate Grace, made remarks which seemed targeted at Mujuru and allies, particularly Women’s Affairs minister and fellow politburo member Olivia Muchena. She said there were people, who belonged to the late Abel Muzorewa’s UANC, plotting against Mugabe even though they were generously welcomed into Zanu PF and given top posts.
Muchinguri even claimed she was now receiving assassination threats for campaigning for Grace, although she said she was not afraid. She also alleged that there were people intending to kill Mugabe to take over power.
Grace, however, told Muchinguri not to worry as she is prepared to fight rivals portrayed as enemies.
“My time has come to show people what I am made of,” Grace warned.
She said she might have a “small fist”, but when it comes to fighting, “I will put stones inside it to enlarge it, or even put on gloves to make it bigger. Do not doubt my capabilities”.
Grace insinuated her life and interests were under threat after Mugabe’s time in power.
“Pane vanhu varikuda kundizvuzvurudza mutara (There are people who want to drag me against a tarred road) when the President goes,” she said.
Grace also said some people accuse her of forcing Mugabe to continue as leader, denying them a chance to take over. She told the youths that those vying for top posts in the party should wait for the right time.
She urged the youths to refuse to be used by senior party officials who use money and other dirty means to buy votes and positions.
“People should learn to wait for their time. Patience pays. Here I am, I never dreamt of entering politics, but you have approached me to do so and I am ready to go. You said you want to work with me and I said yes, but you should know that I am strict,” she said.
Grace was nominated by all 10 provinces to be Zanu PF secretary for the Women’s League during her 49th birthday celebrations two weeks ago.
In the same belligerent address, she also threatened to deal with Zanu PF Mazowe South MP Fortune Chasi, alleging he was interfering with her bid to grab more land in the area and seize Manzou Game Park where she claims she wants to build a secondary school, hospital and Robert Mugabe University in order to generate revenue to support her orphans.
Urged on by the youths who were shouting hondo, hondo! (war, war!), she escalated tensions by describing herself as “monya (bouncer) for hire” and a “force to reckon with”.
“Don’t worry, I will rein him in,” Grace told the youths as she declared war on Chasi.
Muchinguri also accused Zanu PF factional leaders of being thieves who have plundered the country’s wealth and now want political power to protect their loot.
“We hear others were given bed spreads and money by Americans. Others are hidden in mountains. Why those desperate moves. They came from Muzorewa and other parties and we accepted them in Zanu PF, now they say Mugabe should go; why?” Muchinguri charged.