Swimming between hippos and crocodiles

“Stop it. Stop it,” she screamed in Gwanda recently as she attempted to bring order to the Zanu PF cheflings as they scrabbled for space in the dry campaign trail of Matabeleland South.

MuckRaker

Grace is having difficulty making herself heard. The regional barons are already carving out their territory and are reluctant to admit a newcomer.

So to stamp her authority she just had to step up the volume!
“You must stop it,” she declared, insisting ministers and party chefs were not above the law.

This made things rather uncomfortable for Ray Kaukonde, among others, who shared the podium in Marondera where she ended her campaign blitz under a cloud of internal rebellion.

“You are the chairperson of the province,” she admonished.

“We have to tell you to behave. You are my husband’s child.”
Kaukonde grinned sheepishly. He then laughed it off as if he knows that Grace and her faction cannot reverse the overwhelming support VP Joice Mujuru has in the province.

Doom looms

Grace and her team will meet the same fate in Mash Central and Mash West where a Mujuru loyalist, Temba Mliswa, was overwhelmingly reinstated as provincial chairman last weekend despite sponsored attempts to push him out.

The matrix is now very clear.

Grace hails from Mash East, which does not support her. Her business ventures are in Mash Central, where she does not have political traction, and her husband is from Mash West, which has reinstated firebrand Mliswa from the rival camp.

But there are no real worries here.

Kaukonde et al are well-embodied in the machinery of Zanu PF as the re-election of Mliswa shows.

If a vote is held at congress, Mash East, West and Central will go to Mujuru’s camp as well as Manicaland, Harare, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo. The only way Grace can win is through manipulation of political and constitutional processes. In other words, through internal political fraud.

Because of Grace’s cartoon politics, Zanu PF is in a political sense facing the logic of the economic theory, the tragedy of commons, which is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen.

Let’s assume Grace wins a pyrrhic victory in December but in the end the party splits, who benefits out of that? Will there be Zanu PF in the end to talk about?

As someone once said, politicians are fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.
Recommended reading for our good friend, Amazing Grace, Sarah Ban Breathnach, Peace and Plenty: Finding Your Path to Financial Serenity.

In there is an interesting quote: “This is how women self-sabotage and self-destruct. Unless we have constant witnesses to our hard work, we are convinced we pull off every day of our lives through smoke and mirrors.”

Politically speaking, that’s what Grace is doing. She wants to pull a fast one on the whole nation through smoke and mirrors!

Tasteless
But the problem with Grace is that she lacks gravitas. She has come to the party too late. And she cannot now impose what little authority she has on a fractious party.

Perhaps the most tasteless statement to emerge from her was the attack on Heide Holland.

What had she done wrong apart from writing a book, her suicide — and colour of course?

But her book, Dinner with Mugabe, a searching analysis of the upbringing of the president doesn’t appear to have gone down well in the Mugabe household in Zvimba.

So the deceased became an easy target for the First Lady.
Grace claims she had cursed Holland.

“I appealed to God to deal with her if what she wrote was not true. She committed suicide.”

This was dangerous talk — in these enlightened times a wise woman would never say such things. It all sounded like a confession to witchcraft.

But anyway how old could she have been in 1974 when Mugabe came out of detention?

In fact it emerges Heidi knew Mugabe first when Grace was just a little girl — nine years old.

The rallies may have been designed to project Grace as a serious political player. But they were in fact a public relations disaster.

Her posture was belligerent, her language unmeasured, her post unelected, and her credibility zero.

The PhD did not help either. Rather it exposed her to ridicule.

Awkward

Indeed, her insistence upon the use of her title as First Lady backfired.

Many in her audience would of course know that First Lady is not an official title.

It has no constitutional standing. It is an unofficial American usage that found its way across the Atlantic in the 1950s. It certainly should not be used to boost the waning fortunes of an unpopular ruler.

Then there is the problem with the media. Grace’s troubled relations with journalists are well-documented.

Now it’s payback time! That includes inflicting humiliation on Joice Mujuru at Mugabe’s departure and return from Rome even though it was all childish.

But Grace is no further forward after the rallies. Rather we now know her much better today.

Caution
We are sorry to note the accident in which four officials of the MDC-T and MDC were injured on the Bulawayo road last weekend.
Lovemore Moyo of the MDC-T, his aide Artwell Sibanda and an unidentified driver were injured in different accidents including Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga’s vehicle.

We have used this column repeatedly to warn against driving at night. Zimbabwe roads are lethal at night.

Many journalists have lost their lives.

Please could all newspapers discourage their staff from driving at night. It’s just some advice.