via ‘Mugabe behind Grace power bid’ – DailyNews Live 18 October 2015
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s public defence of his controversial wife Grace’s relentless assault on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supporters suggests that the nonagenarian is not against the idea of the First Lady succeeding him, analysts say.
Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, the analysts also said Mugabe’s failure to reign in the first lady as she continued to play a divisive role in the warring post-congress Zanu PF meant that the increasingly powerful first lady was now “more than just women’s league boss”.
Not for the first time in recent months, Mugabe once again defended his wife while addressing the ruling party’s central committee meeting at its Harare headquarters on Friday, claiming further that his wife did not lead any party faction.
And contradicting his own and his wife’s many public pronouncements over the past few months, Mugabe also claimed that factionalism in Zanu PF was fictitious and a creation of the independent media, adding that some people were jealous of his wife’s work for the ruling party.
This happened as insiders reiterated that the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks, known as the Generation 40 (G40), were expediently pushing Grace for the presidency to thwart Mnangagwa’s own ambitions for higher office.
Firstly, it shows that Grace’s influence is growing.
“Secondly, her coming into active politics now appears like a well-calculated move. They (Mugabe and Grace) are in agreement as to why Grace should be an active politician,” political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa said.
He added that Mugabe’s denial that his party was not riddled with factionalism was typical of the nonagenarian’s “denialist tendencies”.
“He never accepts reality until such a point when he is taking a decision. He cannot fool the whole country that there are no factions in his party at a time when open clashes are taking place.
“All this might be a final nail to Mnangagwa’s faction. It might be a first step by Uncle Bob (Mugabe) to denounce Mnangagwa and his cabal,” Hamauswa said.
Grace’s influence in Zanu PF and the government has been increasing noticeably since late last year when she was unexpectedly elevated to the important position of women’s league boss.
Her power has been exhibited time and again since then as she has mounted many televised rallies, bossed the country’s vice presidents and other Cabinet ministers, and increasingly given direction on government policies.
“She is not stopping at the boundary of the women’s league as she is increasingly showing that she has an elastic mandate.
“When she starts encroaching into other party departments like the youth, it no longer shows that she is the women’s league boss alone but also that there are other agendas,” University of Zimbabwe lecturer and respected political analyst Eldred Masunungure said.
He said Grace’s unfettered influence showed that in a way, she was assisting her ailing husband, whom several analysts have said is out of touch with what is happening on the ground in the country.
“To me, she is not at par with the VPs (Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko). Even if you look at it, the VP (Mphoko) introduced the first lady (during her recent rallies), which clearly shows that there is something behind this anomaly. She is doing more than what the president said,” he added.
Masunungure said in so far as the donations that Grace was making at her rallies were a good gesture, they were based on “sinister motives” which went beyond assisting the electorate.
“She is not even worried about the perception of vote buying, from the statements she has made during her recent rally in Mashonaland Central,” he said.
During the rally and in a statement seen as an announcement for her intended bid to take over from her husband, Grace said that it was better for people to vote for her after she made her donations, than to vote for someone who had done nothing for them.
Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said Mugabe’s faculties were failing owing to his advanced age, adding that factionalism was “real” in Zanu PF and that the nonagenarian was supporting his wife’s bid for the presidency.
“He is an old man with a very energetic, ambitious and younger wife. At that age, most men just follow what their wives say, especially when there is such a huge age difference. The fact is that Grace is leading a faction and Mugabe supports that faction led by his wife,” Saungweme said.
However, he said factionalism was going to change the face of the post-congress Zanu PF.
“It’s a party with various centres of power created by the vacuum of its aged leader, and the wife has stepped in to try and rescue the situation and become the centre of power.
“Sadly, the wife is very inept, unsophisticated and crude, and one wonders what will become of her when the husband is gone,” Saungweme said.
Meanwhile, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu says that there is no need for a “rocket scientist to prove that Grace is the face of the G40”.
“She is neck-deep in factional politics and of course, Robert Mugabe is the puppeteer, pulling the strings behind the scenes.
“As the MDC, we are very pleased that Zanu PF is collapsing as a result of irreconcilable factional and tribal differences. “Mnangagwa is a Karanga and the Zezuru clique that is driving the so-called G40 faction can never, ever countenance a situation whereby a Karanga becomes head of state in Zimbabwe,” he said.