FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has turned her husband into a factional leader and she is to blame for the divisions rocking the ruling party, a local think tank has claimed.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
According to the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute’s (ZDI) latest report titled: Zimbabwe Political Economy Review: Elite Discohesion and Authoritarian Erosion: Zanu PF on the Precipice, Grace’s dramatic entry into mainstream Zanu PF politics in 2014 worsened factionalism in Zanu PF.
“Moreover, Grace’s entry into Zanu PF structures has opened floodgates of criticism targeted at Mugabe eroding his enigmatic status in the party,” reads part of the report.
“Mugabe has now become a symbol of derision from ordinary party members with party youths even hosting press conferences asking the president to rein in his wife.”
ZDI says Grace has changed the face of the ruling party through purges and expulsions of opponents.
“Her demeanour and inferences that she is in complete charge of both the party and the state, without any constitutional legal basis upon which to exercise such powers, has been the seedbed of chaos and anarchy in all the organs and structures of the ruling party,” ZDI said.
The report says Grace’s meddling in party structures had fuelled and accelerated “elite discohesion” and popularised the politics of dissent within Zanu PF.
“Zanu PF members are now being fired more for disrespecting the First Lady than infringing the party constitution,” ZDI added.
“More importantly, President Mugabe has always prevailed and glued Zanu PF together by playing factions one against the other.
“However, with the entry of Grace Mugabe into politics, Mugabe has been forced to and has become a faction leader, purportedly of G40 (Generation 40).”
G40 is a Zanu PF faction linked to the First Lady.
However, despite their combined power, the report says Mugabe and Grace have faced resistance, particularly from veterans of the liberation struggle and youths.
“The dissent in structures such as the war veterans, youth league and some vigilante groups associated with Zanu PF are indicative of the resistance to the capture of the party and the state by the First Lady,” ZDI said.
“Statements by war veterans such as Jabulani Sibanda [former war veterans chairman] that Zanu PF has suffered a ‘bedroom coup’ are a result of Grace Mugabe’s ubiquitous political interference in party affairs beyond her realm as secretary of the women’s league.”
Zanu PF’s leadership structure according to the report, has also been rocked, with Grace “assuming a position superior to that of second secretaries (vice-presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko)”.
“When Mphoko stated he was subordinate to the first lady, Christopher Mutsvangwa [war veterans’ chairman] slammed her, stating that the vice-president ‘respects the marriage certificate more than he respects the Constitution,” ZDI said.
“We are an elected constitutional republic.”
War veterans are critical of Grace’s attempts to influence her husband’s succession and are locked in a vicious war with G40.
Grace’s faction does not want Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe much to the chagrin of the war veterans.