Grace Mugabe’s unexpected rise to the helm of the Zanu PF Women’s League a fortnight ago and her spewing of hatred on Justice deputy minister and Mazowe South MP Fortune Chasi on Thursday proves the adage — “A week is a very long time in politics”.
By PAIDAMOYO MUZULU/ MOSES MATENGA/SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Her utterances came to many as a shock and were described by others as undiplomatic and well below the belt.
Echoes of endorsement and congratulations from the party structures to Grace were still ringing in the ears of a shocked public when the First Lady chose to put her foot in her mouth.
The Zanu PF Women’s League a fortnight ago claimed that Mugabe’s wife had not solicited for her elevation and that her appointment would bring unity to the divided party. However, going by her Thursday’s attacks on perceived enemies, among them Chasi, she has shown herself to possess a dangerous propensity to further divide and harm the party, according to political analysts.
They said Grace had also exposed her abrasive nature and disregard of national laws. She confirmed that she had taken at least two farms and was seeking to get a third in the same area and did not care about where the people to be displaced would be sent.
The First Lady said she was a “bouncer” and a “force to reckon with”. “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,” she warned.
Many analysts believe that she has either been overawed by power or was clearly a “dictator” in the making.
Political commentator and journalist Chofamba Sithole wrote on social media: “I’m left with the very strong sense that putting this woman anywhere near power is a dangerous mistake, for Zanu PF itself as well as for the rest of the country.”
He added that Grace was an antithesis of her husband in leadership.
Grace, analysts say, has managed to get away with this in Zanu PF because party members were afraid to openly criticise her or offend Mugabe, especially with the congress on the horizon.
Grace’s proposed elevation would be in violation of the party’s stringent guidelines for people seeking office. All persons seeking national positions are requested to have at least five years’ experience at provincial level.
Political analyst Professor Eldred Masunungure yesterday said that the First Lady was too junior to take responsibility.
“She is younger than the party. She did not grow in the trenches. Most of the leaders in the party were in the trenches when she was probably a young girl,” said Masunungure.
“Zanu PF is a party that will swallow her. It is a party that is known for convulsions; some of them too bloody. She is too junior and she needs more experience at the lower levels for at least 10 years.”
Masunungure said Grace’s ascendency was merely part of factional coalitions that have been taking centre stage in the party.
He said Grace did not possess the qualities for a country’s leader.
“She is not ripe for the politburo, not ripe for the women’s league and not ripe for the presidency,” said Masunungure.
“But what I see is a cross faction between the Mugabe and the Mnangagwa faction to overpower the Mujuru faction.”
He said her entrance into the women’s league was part of alliance building by those who initiated the move to strengthen their faction on realisation that the rival faction was poised to take most of the key positions in the central committee.
Masunungure said her interest in politics was also a way of protecting her family’s business interests that have seen her grabbing more land for her different businesses.
“Her entry into politics is part and parcel of her desire to protect her interests,” he said.
Chofamba summed up Grace’s elevation as a dangerous move that could cause more fissures in Zanu PF.
“Grace has already started sowing seeds of division by picking out party opponents to the selfish expansion of her real estate empire for public excoriation on political platforms. That is a dangerous thing to do and her intention is not lost on her audience as well as target.
These public verbal attacks of party officials by colleagues in the same party appear to becoming the new game in Zanu PF following Mugabe’s attacks on party officials.
Grace’s attack on Chasi comes hardly a month after Mugabe publicly lashed out at Information Minister Jonathan Moyo accusing him of being a “weevil” destroying Zanu PF from within.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa then added insult to injury by threatening to use a deadly banned substance, Gamatox, on them.
Another political analyst Dr Ibbo Mandaza said the public opinion on Grace said it all.
“The public’s reaction has been very negative towards what is happening,” he said.
“The question that I have is why is she being lured into all this? Why is she not suspicious of all those luring her into this? It does not help her.”
Mandaza said it was unfortunate that on her ascendency into the political game she has started provoking people who were doing their jobs like MP Fortune Chasi whom she accused of terrorising her in Mazowe. “That is very unfortunate. She should just leave that man alone. He is doing his job. It’s not nice. I do not think it is good,” said Mandaza.
“All of us are alarmed when something like that happens and it is most regrettable. I hope nothing happens to him.”