FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe’s emotionally-charged relentless vitriolic public attacks on Vice-President Joice Mujuru — which scaled hysterical heights yesterday — are apparently driven by a deep-seated fear and insecurity that the Vice-President will not protect her family interests and vast business empire which includes farms and a dairy should she come to power.
The relationship between Grace and Mujuru has broken down into insults and acrimony that the First Lady even refused to shake Mujuru’s hand at the Harare International Airport on Tuesday and last week on Friday.
Grace yesterday for the first time made it clear by name that she harbours personal aversion of Mujuru and wants her out as she intensified her stinging verbal insults — including potentially defamatory name-calling and abuses — on her despite growing outrage in Zanu PF over that.
She claimed she was holding rallies and meetings which she abuses to attack her enemies because she is a “First Lady” — a borrowed American unofficial title which has no constitutional and legal basis.
Those close to the Mugabe family and senior Zanu PF officials, including officials who followed her rallies across the country this month, say Grace is livid and bitter after being informed Mujuru will seize her farms and business enterprises if she comes into power because of ongoing land grabs in her home province of Mashonaland Central and bad blood between them.
Sources say intelligence services and other informants have told the Mugabe family Mujuru would punish them if she were to come to power for refusing to relinquish the reins and grabbing vast tracts of land in the fertile Mazowe areas.
Grace has also publicly displayed her fears at some of her rallies, most notably in in Bindura on October 16, when she claimed Mujuru had allegedly secretly told her allies that when Mugabe is gone she would seize their businesses and farms.
The First Lady further claimed Mujuru, whom yesterday she said she helped to ascend to her current position in 2004 while saying her time is up, was telling people she loves money, she is corrupt and is dealing in diamonds.
Grace also publicly accused the Vice-President of attempting to evict her son, Russell Goreraza, whom she bore in her first marriage before getting remarried to Mugabe, from a mine in apparent reference to Tolrose Mine in Kadoma. She then paraded Russell and told party supporters his son was being falsely accused of gold panning.
Party officials who attended closed door briefings with her during her rallies, told the Zimbabwe Independent this week Grace did not mince her words behind the scenes, vowing to fight Mujuru to a bitter end for allegedly going around swearing at her and threatening to seize her family properties once Mugabe is out of power.
“It has become clear she is acting like a woman scorned because she seems to be convinced Mujuru has been privately swearing at her and is a threat to her family and business interests, including children, in this case Russell. She has been banging tables and mentioning Mujuru by name before daring her supporters to phone and tell her what she would have said,” said a Zanu PF official from Mashonaland Central this week.
“Things got so heated last week in Bindura that Mashonaland Central provincial chairman, Luke Mushore, threatened to walk out in protest, but was restrained by politburo member (Nicholas) Goche. She then requested for a private meeting with Goche whom she also accused of supporting Mujuru, although the First Family has always trusted and loved him.
“The irony is that at the rally she said her son was not into gold panning, but during a briefing at Bindura University she admitted it but said he should not be harassed.”
The other hot potato for Grace is the multiple farms which her family controls. Despite publicly advocating for a one-man-one-farm policy, Mugabe’s family reportedly owns many farms. It reportedly controls at least 10 farms through Gushungo Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and other networks. Gushungo is Mugabe’s clan name.
Some of the farms owned by the First Family were exposed by Justice Ben Hlatshwayo in 2008 after Grace grabbed his farm, Gwina Farm, in Banket. Hlatshwayo took the matter to court arguing the First Family were multiple farm owners before he withdrew the case under massive political pressure.
By the time he withdrew the matter from court, he had, however, exposed that Mugabe’s family also owned Mazowe, Sigaro, Leverdale and Bassiville farms through Gushungo Holdings.
The Mugabe family also owns the 1 000-hectare Gushungo Dairy, formerly Foyle Farm, which they grabbed from Ian Webster before seizing the 1 488ha Leverdale Farm from Piers Nicolle. In addition, Grace forcibly took 1 046ha Iron Mask Farm from John Matthews.
Grace then moved to seize land from Interfresh Holdings at Mazowe Citrus Estate, the group’s prime asset, leaving the company in a precarious position. Interfresh had total land holdings of 3 800ha.
Grace, however, took 870ha (23%), leaving the company with 2 930ha (77%).
Other than Hlatshwayo’s farm, the Mugabes also grabbed former Standard Chartered Bank CEO, Washington Matsaire’s 1 200ha Gwebi Wood Farm. Mugabe’s personal farm, Highfield in Norton, is 445ha while neighbouring farms were taken for “security reasons” leaving him controlling about 4 050ha.