via ‘Grace’s sponsors misreading game’ – DailyNews Live 13 October 2014 by Thelma Chikwanha
HARARE – Despite widespread belief that Grace Mugabe’s formal entrance into Zanu PF’s high stakes politics was a result of cunning manipulation by a faction within the ruling party, some analysts say her sponsors may have miscalculated badly regarding her ambitions.
The strong suspicion that the First Lady may be a “sponsored decoy” was given impetus last week when outgoing Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri told Zanu PF supporters in Masvingo that her caucus had seen it fit to rope in Grace to clip the powers of some unnamed people who were becoming too powerful ahead of the party’s crucial December elective congress.
In addition, the First Lady herself also hinted at the manipulation conspiracy during her address at another rally at Mutare’s Sakubva Stadium, where she took a swipe at the party’s warring factions and went out of her way to try and distance herself from either of the two main factions fighting for power inside the party.
“I don’t want anyone to see me as theirs… I have thought long about this and realised that if I’m not careful, I will be used. “There are people who have their scores to settle, but don’t try to use me to settle your scores,” she said.
However, analysts canvassed by the Daily News at the weekend said Grace’s elevation to the commanding heights of the power matrix inside Zanu PF appeared to be at least a case of “mutual manipulation”, where both parties were driven by their own clear interests.
Political scientist Eldred Masunugure said those who had proposed her to lead the Women’s League wanted “a saviour”, while she in turn wanted “to protect her family interests” in the event that her husband left the political stage.
“They (her sponsors) were so obsessed with blocking (Vice President Joice) Mujuru and thought all things would follow (from here). “They looked around and didn’t seem to find anyone among themselves, so they went to the royal house and identified the hidden talent that could be a counter match,” Masunungure said.
Unfortunately, he added, her sponsors did not appear “to think too much” about the consequences of their actions because from where they were looking at things, any other scenario was better than having Mujuru occupying State House.
However, Masunungure said, there now appeared to be a realisation on the part of the First Lady that she had been used and hence her need in Mutare to distance herself from those who had initiated her stunning rise in the party — who had erroneously believed that she would hand over power to them at some stage.
“The appetite for power increases with the eating. She will not be satisfied by just becoming the Women’s League boss, she’d like to get to the centre of power. We are already seeing that she is acting like a defacto prime minister. She has no official position, but what she says now seems like policy.
“She is beginning to enjoy the forbidden fruit called power, but whether she will be allowed to get to the centre of power only time will tell, but I doubt that she will hand over power to anyone,” Masunungure said.
Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher with the Human Rights Watch concurred with Masunungure, adding that there were no permanent friends in politics, but only common interests.
“Politics is a complex game with no straight forward explanations. It is not entirely clear that there could be a group using the First Lady. Who knows, maybe it is the First Lady using that faction to pave way for her own political ambitions.
“Sometimes individuals are given political power in the hope that they will forever be puppets, but once they taste power those people may change to become something else. That maybe the case with Amai,” he said.
But Charity Manyeruke, another political scientist, was of the opinion that Grace was not being manipulated, but had come into the political fold as a saviour to the faction-riddled party. Manyeruke said it was crystal clear that the First Lady wanted unity in the party.
“Oppah’s statement is in fact speaking against divisions. It is signalling the end of any anarchical behaviour which a few individuals might have had. “Dr Grace’s actions and statements within this period are amounting to that the party must come together. What law and order, and good leadership, entails is that it must be able to rein in any selfish characteristics,” she said.
Manyeruke added: “There is no manipulation, she is a PhD holder. She thinks upright and knows how to analyse issues. She is beyond manipulation. She is no novice within the party. She is bringing good leadership that will unite a party and that will transcend to the nation.”