PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was the architect of his wife Grace’s “meet-the-people” rallies where she went on the rampage attacking former vice-president Joice Mujuru leading to her eventual ouster, politburo minutes show.
By Wongai Zhangazha
Politburo minutes from October and November 2014 seen by the Zimbabwe Independent show that Mugabe steadfastly defended and supported his wife when other politburo members complained about her conduct. Mugabe and Grace also received support from Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa who at the time was secretary for legal affairs. Mnangagwa, who has been crying foul over the unconstitutional and illegal purges of his allies supported the unlawful suspensions and expulsions of Mujuru’s loyalists.
In her rallies, Grace verbally attacked Mujuru, describing her as lazy, incompetent, corrupt and an extortionist before later accusing her of plotting to bewitch and assassinate her husband, Mugabe.
After complaints from some politburo members, among them Angeline Masuku, Tshinga Dube, Rugare Gumbo and Olivia Muchena over Grace’s remarks, Mugabe defended his wife’s campaign, saying it was were triggered by people who were boycotting her rallies, as revealed by minutes of a Zanu PF politburo meeting held on October 30 2014.
“The President and the First Secretary Cde R G Mugabe noted that it was a good programme and the first three meetings went on well. He, however, said that it was sad to note that as efforts were made for people to attend the rallies, some were busy throwing spanners into the works to sabotage the meetings. He said it was then that the First Lady was enraged and shifted her tone and issues talked (about),” read the minutes.
Mnangagwa also defended Grace’s rallies saying that they brought freshness in the party.
“In his comments, the secretary for legal affairs (Mnangagwa) reported that the First Lady was a member of the party who enjoys equal rights with all other members. He said the rallies brought freshness in the party and has put to test loyalty, commitment and perseverance of members,” the minutes read.
In another politburo meeting on November 13 2014 that led to the suspension of the ruling party’s former spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, Chipinge South MP Enock Porusingazi, former war vets leader Jabulani Sibanda, among others, Mnangagwa actively supported their expulsion.
The minutes read: “The secretary for legal affairs observed that the meeting was dealing with issues of gross misconduct. He referred to Article 10 sub-section 75 of the constitution and said the punishment for various offences were of i) oral reprimand, ii) written reprimand, iii) a fine, iv) suspension or removal from holding any office in the party and v) expulsion from membership of the party.”
However, the tables have subsequently been turned against Mnangagwa and he too has been accused by Grace of plotting to oust her husband. Several Zanu PF officials believed to be allies of the vice-president have either been suspended or expelled from the party.
Unlike Mujuru, Mnangagwa has managed to survive the purges largely owing to support from military commander General Constantine Chiwenga and most army commanders and war veterans.
The army and war veterans have been Mnangagwa’s pillar of strength in his battle with the Generation 40 faction, with war veterans in particular standing up to Grace’s aggression.
The military’s involvement in politics has irked the First Lady so much that at a rally in Chiweshe in February, she openly accused army bosses of plotting to bomb her dairy in Mazowe. She also said the army was plotting to kill her last-born son Bellarmine to instill fear in the First Family.