“CAREFUL, there she comes!” said Mr Mugabe to David Smith of the Guardian (The Guardian 15.07.15) when asked if Grace has ambitions of being President of Zimbabwe. Earlier the reply was “She doesn’t have those ambitions,” how deceitful was Mr Mugabe about his wife’s ambitions.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” Martin Luther King Jr. The friends of former vice president Joyce Mujuru who kept quiet when she was treated unjustly probably never thought the same scenario would be playing again. Grace Mugabe is back on her purging rallies, this time it is none other than Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the mercies of Grace Mugabe.
Mrs Joice Mujuru must be gleefully observing the happenings and thanking her Almighty for vindicating her so soon. The Machiavellian politician (Jonathan Moyo) is at it again, mentoring Grace and selling her to the hapless masses to be a force to reckon with. Grace Mugabe is a fully fledged politician; gone are the days of the dutiful first lady, now enter a no holds barred, bare knuckled political grifter no longer in the shadow of her aged husband.
It is Grace now publicly telling us she is in charge whether we like it or not. Chastising mature man at the meet-the-people rallies and telling them to stand up or humiliating them has become her trade mark. Mnangagwa and his acolytes have been conspicuous by their absence at the connecting with the people rallies.
Mnangagwa is on a slippery slope given the power Grace is amassing. It will not be long before he is left out altogether as the slogan, munhu wese kunaAmai (loosely translated everyone to Grace Mugabe) has become the lingua franca in Zanu PF quarters. Grace has been casting veiled threats to some unknown persons in the party but conventional wisdom says it is aimed at Mnangagwa. Very soon the Vice President will find himself with no praise singers and sycophants as all make a beeline for Dr Amai’s camp.
We could all ask how intelligent men and women wearing $1,000 suits can be following Grace at the expense of government duties. The answer is not hard to work out, just like the mafia, you cross the Godfather at your peril. Out of fear most of the party apparatchiks who have senior positions are trotting around the country following her.Advertisement
Zimbabweans are desperate and all they want is someone who can give them a glimmer of hope as they reel under tough economic conditions. Under normal circumstances they would call Grace all kinds of names but now she is the hope they have been waiting for. In Zimbabwe these are not normal situations and the country is close to the 2008 chaos.
With donor fatigue, Grace has positioned herself as the saviour of the nation. She is filling a void and is in a better spot to “give” people freebies which many opposition political parties can no longer afford. Who would say no to a meal for a day, when tomorrow you have no idea if you will have a meal? If you cannot answer no to that then you understand the context of why Grace is likely to be the next President of Zimbabwe.
Grace clearly wants to succeed her husband officially by going around the country connecting with people and making sure that pretenders to the throne like Mnangagwa are neutered or destroyed. Grace has declared that if Mrs Mujuru dies her remains will not be interred at the heroes’ shrine because she betrayed RG Mugabe not the struggle. Now that’s personalising the Heroes’ Acre. Grace appears to have been mentored by her husband on how to become a dictator.
Mugabe demonized Joshua Nkomo during the early 80s calling him father of dissidents. Equally Grace continues to demonise her opponents threatening them with exposure of their endless plotting. Grace is not short of zealous thugs who are willing to do her bidding to commit acts of violence. She is placating them with goodies as she purports to be giving to the people when she is fully aware that her thugs will loot them before the ordinary people have their hands on them. A strategy which suits her well as she can turn around and castigate the thugs without any repercussions to them, just public humiliation which goes nowhere at all.
Grace has consolidated power right in our view, while we are busy looking back at her past. Notice how Vice President Mphoko is humiliated at various rallies and made to introduce Grace instead of the other way round. The Vice President is hedging his bets knowing that as things are, Grace will rise like a phoenix and be the next President. The VP has further reduced himself by sycophantically answering when questioned about protocol at Grace’s rallies. His answer was bizarre in that he said Grace was his boss.
Mphoko needs to understand that your boss’s wife is not your boss! Maybe in fiefdoms she is! The whole behaviour confirms that she is now the de facto president. At the Mashonaland rally Grace said: “You do not know protocol. You are uneducated. Go back to school! Surely, how can you have a paper having such a headline? It is just nonsense.” Surely there is something wrong with that language and attitude towards the electorate unless she has already won the election.
Grace sees nothing wrong in abusing state resources, using helicopters to the rallies which are for all intents and purposes party business and not government business, unless she is the president? The list of items she donated, or bribed voters with, (for lack of a word), is staggering; tractors, planters, discs, spreaders, ploughs and pesticides to farmers in her nemesis, ousted former Vice President Joyce Mujuru’s province. Local traditional chiefs were given suits and shirts, as well as 20 bicycles to deploy for community use. She further gave 20,000 litres of cooking oil, 15 tonnes of assorted clothing, 6,000 pairs of shoes and 531 school satchels.
She did not end there; she further dished out 150 tonnes of Compound D fertiliser, 150 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, 50 tonnes of rice (mpunga) and 300 tonnes of maize. Not to be outdone Jonathan Moyo chipped in with 50 computers for use by schools in the province. This largesse is a bribe, and Grace did not even hide it, she said “It doesn’t matter even if I bribe them and they vote for me; it’s okay. It is better to vote for someone who gives you something than someone who does not.” What happened to a welfare state where you don’t need to bribe people?
These events show how brazen she has become. The purge that saw off Joyce Mujuru is now visiting the Mnangagwa faction. The so-called Generation 40 (G40) led by Kasukuwere and Jonathan Moyo is so emboldened that they are lambasting Mnangagwa on social media. This, in the history of Zanu PF is unheard of, that one could mock the Lacoste and live to talk about it. Time will tell if Grace will be substantive President or the great crocodile will emerge as victor and grab the throne.
Grace has a lot on her side; the incumbent President can retire and pass the baton to her or the cowered provinces will all go with the mantra “munhu wese kunaAmai” thus effectively knocking off all pretenders. The other advantage for her is that Mnangangwa is thoroughly disliked by all provinces and so most party chairmen will gleefully jettison him for any other candidate.
I will close with these wise words from Mandela, “A leader . . . is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realising that all along they are being directed from behind.” I am sure Joice is living these wonderful words of Nelson Mandela.
Hlaleleni Karanda is a founder member of Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign and a human rights activist living in Northern Ireland and also ZUNDE’s Regional Representative for Ireland. She writes this piece in her personal capacity and it does not reflect the views of the organisations mentioned above. She can be contacted at email@example.com. You may visit ZUNDE at www.zunde.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org