First lady Grace Mugabe’s audacious campaign to push two senior Zanu PF women’s league leaders out of their posts will be a litmus test to the G40 faction, which was caught unawares by a wave of poorly organised but well-oiled demonstrations last week.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Scores of Zanu PF supporters demonstrated in major towns and cities across Zimbabwe last week demanding the expulsion of the first lady’s deputy in the women’s league Eunice Sandi Moyo and finance secretary Sarah Mahoka.
The two are accused of a litany of charges that include disrespecting Grace and embezzling party funds.
However, it has since emerged that the real reason President Robert Mugabe’s wife wants the two fired is because she believes Sandi Moyo is a threat to her ambitions to be vice president.
A faction linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has latched onto the chaos engineered by Grace to push for action against leading G40 leaders such as Saviour Kasukuwere as it seeks to settle old scores.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said the push to fire Mahoka and Sandi Moyo was linked to Grace’s political ambitions.
“It is Grace’s agenda and part of the dynastic project to keep the Mugabes in power,” he said.
“It is clear there is a split in the G40 faction but the extent of this division is yet to be known, but it is not in question that things are not as they were.
“The interesting part is the demonstrations seem to have taken a tone that is not antagonistic of ED [Mnangagwa] and there seems to be a hurried move to get rid of these so-called undesirable elements.
“It’s part of an ongoing cleansing exercise that will continue until the ultimate goal is reached.”
As if to buttress this point, Mnangagwa last week came out in support of a life presidency declaring Mugabe should rule “until he dies”.
Even Zanu PF youths, who are believed to be G40’s biggest constituency, have been forced to work against the faction’s interests by joining the demonstrations targetting Sandi Moyo and Mahoka to save their careers. Kudzi Chipanga, the secretary for youth affairs, said they had no choice but to join in the protests.
“As youth league, I can confirm that we have been officially notified of solidarity marches in support of the first lady and against two members who are accused of undermining and usurping her powers,” said.
“We are solidly behind Amai Mugabe and if any member of our structure has strayed, it would be unfortunate. For us we have a slogan panaAmai ndopane mwana, [the children will remain with the mother], we will not move from that.”
He added: “To us the first lady is the women’s league, she is the leader and chief executive. What she says goes and we will support her through and through. We have been advised by the women’s league that these two have deviated from the direction Zanu PF is taking.
“As to whether there are others who should be removed, the women’s league is better placed to judge its membership.”
Academic Ibbo Mandaza said Grace was being used to stop Mnangagwa’s ascendancy.
“Mugabe cares very little about anyone, including his family. He does not envisage a successor, let alone his death,” he said.
“The fight at the moment is to stop Mnangagwa and Grace will be used as a blunt instrument for the demolition job.
“She will continue to walk in Mugabe’s shadow and launch attacks from there. However, she will not survive a post-Mugabe era and they will not be foolish to elevate her further.”
Mandaza added: “She will remain bold and brazen for as long as Mugabe is alive. They are praying that he stays on but inwardly very scared of what tomorrow might bring.”
Harare-based political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said while Grace’s latest manoeuvres appeared to be an attack on G40 on the surface, the real target was Mnangagwa.