FIRST lady Grace Mugabe’s entrance into mainstream politics in 2014 widened the cracks in Zanu PF, which is on the verge of collapse due to an unresolved ferocious succession wrangle tearing apart the party, a local political think-tank has said.
In its latest report on the review of political economy in Zimbabwe titled Elite Discohesion and Authoritarian Erosion: Zanu PF on the Precipice, Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) says Grace’s entrance into the political arena as the Women’s League boss in 2014 aggravated factional fissures in Zanu PF.
“The entry of the first lady, Grace Mugabe, into mainstream Zanu PF politics in 2014 arguably heralded the summit of elite discohesion and fissures in all organs of the party including the Women’s League that she leads,” reads the report.
“Her entry into politics coincided with unprecedented purging and expulsions from Zanu PF since 1963. Her demeanour and inferences that she is in complete charge of both the party and the state, without any constitutional legal basis upon which to exercise such powers, has been the seedbed of chaos and anarchy in all the organs and structures of the ruling party.
“The first lady’s meddling in party structures has arguably fuelled and accelerated elite discohesion and popularised the politics of dissent within Zanu PF. Zanu PF members are now being fired more for disrespecting the first lady than infringing the party constitution.”
Upon her entry into the mainstream body politic, Grace launched a serious and systematic attack on the ousted former vice-president Joice Mujuru, accusing her of trying to overthrow and assassinate Mugabe in her bid to take over as the president.
Zanu PF youths, war veterans and the military coalesced around her leading to Mujuru’s ouster together with over 100 senior party members. Mujuru has since formed a political party, the Zimbabwe People First, which is backed by some former ruling party stalwarts.
A year after dislodging Mujuru, Grace is already on a warpath, targeting Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, also based on similar charges of fanning factionalism in the party and plotting Mugabe’s ouster.
However, Grace’s moves to eject Mnangagwa from the party have been met with stiff resistance widening fissures in all party organs.
“The dissent in structures such as the war veterans, Youth League and some vigilante groups associated with Zanu PF are indicative of the resistance to the capture of the party and the state by the first lady,” states the report.
“Statements by war veterans such as Jabulani Sibanda that Zanu PF has suffered a “bedroom coup,” are a result of Grace Mugabe’s ubiquitous political interference in party affairs beyond her realm as secretary of the Women’s League.”
The report also states that the hierarchical set up in Zanu PF has also been distorted with the first lady assuming a position superior to that of second secretaries—Mnangagwa and co-Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko.
“When Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko stated he was subordinate to the first lady, Christopher Mutsvangwa slammed him, stating that the vice-president “respects the marriage certificate more than he respects the Constitution. We are an elected constitutional republic.”
Mutsvangwa has since been recalled from government after being suspended from the party.-Elias Mambo