Zim’s ‘First shopper’ rattles Zanu PF

via Zim’s ‘First shopper’ rattles Zanu PF 29 August 2014

SHE has expensive tastes, owns a lot of land in the country and is now entering politics, a move that is roiling a nation that has known only one leader since independence: President Robert Mugabe, who is 90 years old.

The newcomer is Mugabe’s 49-year-old wife Grace, who accepted a nomination last month to lead the ruling party’s women’s wing, triggering accusations that Mugabe aims to set a political dynasty in place.

Her nomination has already caused infighting in the Zanu PF ruling party, with some claiming they’ve been intimidated.

The Zanu PF Women’s League said they hope Mugabe can advance women’s issues and help heal factionalism because she has “the president’s ear.”

But, like her husband, Mugabe has a knack for giving speeches with fiery and hostile language.

In July, during her acceptance speech for the Zanu PF post, she all but threatened the deputy justice minister and parliament member Fortune Chasi who, she said, has frustrated her efforts to acquire more land and a conservancy near her farm that is an animal sanctuary with gold reserves, where some villagers now live and pan for gold.

“I might have a small fist but when it comes to fighting I will put stones inside to enlarge it, or even put on gloves to make it bigger. Do not doubt my capabilities,” Mugabe told thousands of women who were bussed from across the country to her farm in the Mazowe area northwest of Harare.

Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980 and won re-election in a disputed poll in July 2013, has already accepted a proposal by the women’s wing to be the party’s candidate for the 2018 election. He will be 94 by then. Politicians have been jockeying for position to succeed him.

Once a secretary in Mugabe’s office, Grace rose to prominence after news broke that she had a child with Mugabe while his first wife, Sally, lay bedridden due to a kidney ailment.

Sally, a Ghanaian, died in 1992 from kidney failure. Mugabe has since said Sally knew and approved of Grace since they were childless and he wanted children.

After a Catholic wedding in 1996, Grace made headlines for alleged expensive shopping trips, a fiery temper and the acquisition of huge tracts of land under Mugabe’s controversial land reform program. The couple has three children, and Grace has another son from an earlier marriage to a retired air force officer.

She joined Mugabe on the political campaign trail in 2008 after he lost the first round of voting to opposition leader and main rival Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe won the subsequent runoff.

Last year during the election campaign she attracted attention for comments such as describing Tsvangirai as ugly.

Rival factions have recently begun openly attacking each other’s credentials.

Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa — both veterans of the country’s 1970s liberation war — have been long-time front runners to replace Mugabe.

A member of the Zanu PF Youth League from Harare lodged a police report over the weekend, alleging he had been assaulted by fellow party members for backing Grace.

On Monday, Mugabe’s close nephew and Zanu PF politician Patrick Zhuwawo claimed there was a plot to “push” Grace from Harare by disgruntled party members who want to “relegate the First Family to Zvimba (Mugabe’s home village)”.

Other Youth League members also claim they are being targeted.

Godfrey Gomwe told the state-run Herald newspaper that soon after a provincial youth committee which he led endorsed Grace, his committee was slapped with a no-confidence vote by higher-ups.

Such “turf fights” are normal ahead of party leadership congresses and the “fuss” about Grace will not affect party cohesion, said Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo.

“This phase will pass after the congress,” he said, referring to a December congress in which the president will have the final word on his wife’s appointment as Secretary of the Women’s League of Zanu PF.

Eldred Masunungure, a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe, believes Grace lacks the experience to be head of the Zanu PF women’s league, much less for the presidency, if that ever becomes her aim.

“Her entry into politics is part and parcel of her desire to protect her interests,” Masunungure said.

At a public debate at a Harare hotel on Thursday night, a Zanu PF panelist, Goodson Nguni, defended Grace’s entry into politics after several people accused Mugabe of creating a dynasty.

“It is our right as Zanu PF to choose President Mugabe to lead the country and the First Lady to lead the Women’s League,” Nguni said.

Human rights advocate Gabriel Shumba complained that the ruling party seems more concerned with succession than fixing the economy.

Zimbabwe has severe economic problems. The government has cut economic growth forecasts for 2014 by half to 3.1 percent while the World Bank predicts economic growth of only 2 percent.

Hundreds of companies have closed in the past year. Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans have fled economic hardships in recent years, settling mainly in former colonial power Britain and neighbouring South Africa.


  • comment-avatar
    avenger/revenger 8 years ago

    Bassop. You reap what you gullibles naively sowed in April 1980. You were then expertly forewarned of disaster by those in the know ( not armchair academics )

  • comment-avatar
    Reverend 8 years ago

    If you were an author, and you were commissioned to write the most decadent, idiotic, moronic, stupid, pathetic murder story ever written you could not lower your mind to the level of the fools that call them selves leaders, president of Zimbabwe, and this complete fool of a woman who has the audacity to call herself “the first lady”!
    Lord come Quickly.

  • comment-avatar

    Nothing they say will make me see her as anything more than a vacuous, illbred, pea- brain crass ,crude uncouth twat who happens to carry a mattress strapped to her back to get to the top. Else show me one lady who describes herself as ‘monya’. Only a lady of the night I shoud think.

  • comment-avatar

    People wanted to know who would succeed Mugabe. They now know. Whoever gets a big title it will have to be done with Grace Mugabe, like it or not.

  • comment-avatar
    The Mind Boggles 8 years ago

    Soon the only thing she will be rattling will be a cage. The one she’s locked up in.

  • comment-avatar
    Don Cox 8 years ago

    The interesting thing will be the fight for power between Grace and the military.

  • comment-avatar
    Parangeta 8 years ago

    This entire discussion is academic.

    Mugarbage will be dead and dis-Grace
    will be deposed, or imprisoned, when
    we take back our Beloved Country –
    2018 or before!

    All this is pure rhetoric!