HARARE – The ghost of former Vice President Joice Mujuru continues to haunt the ruling post-congress Zanu PF, with First Lady Grace Mugabe surprisingly warning party supporters yesterday to be wary of calls for them to follow “Amai” as this could be a cunning ploy by the People First movement to garner support for Mujuru.
Mugove Tafirenyika and Bridget Mananavire
Speaking at her latest rally in Mberengwa — which was attended for the very first time by embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, probably because the Midlands Province is seen as one of his strongholds — Grace expressed fears that Mujuru and the People First movement are eating into Zanu PF’s support base in many areas.
Over the past few months, Grace’s supporters, mainly the party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) — who are rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa — have moved to popularise the politically loaded refrain “Munhu wese kuna Amai (Everyone must follow Grace) as they allegedly seek to derail the VP’s presidential ambitions.
And following her ouster from Zanu PF, Mujuru — together with other party stalwarts that include former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa and war veteran Rugare Gumbo — are setting up the “original” Zanu PF that uses the slogan People First, and which plans to contest the eargerly-anticipated 2018 national elections.
Grace said yesterday that Mujuru should not be treated lightly, claiming that she was campaigning vigorously in the Midlands Province through Gumbo.
“There are some war veterans who used to be in Zanu PF, the likes of Rugare Gumbo, who are coming to you with pamphlets written ‘Munhu wese kuna Amai’, but he will be referring to Joice Mujuru.
“Beware, and ignore him and his People First” Grace said, adding that Gumbo “has a history of being troublesome, dating back to the liberation struggle”.
She also tore into opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, accusing him of having allegedly invited economic sanctions against the country from the West, to induce people to rebel against President Robert Mugabe.
“We must always remember that this country came through the barrel of the gun. There was sacrifice and blood was lost, so we must all resist them when they come. They are coming because we have information that Rugare Gumbo is splashing money around in this province to buy your loyalty. We will not allow it to happen,” Grace said to her unusually subdued audience that only appeared to clap hands when she demanded so.
‘‘Dairai nesimba, muri kuzvinzwa here? Ndati kune presidential input scheme munoiziva here? (Respond with energy, do you hear me. I said there is a presidential input scheme, do you know about it?)”, she said as some supporters began to troop out before she wound her speech, and as some provincial bigwigs made frantic efforts to stop them from walking away.
Grace also bemoaned, once again, the “return of factionalism in Zanu PF”, admonishing senior party officials whom she accused of sponsoring the deadly divisions.
“I hope that I have not been misinformed that factionalism does not exist in this province. I just hope it is true. Are you sure you are telling the truth? Are you really sure about that?,” she asked.
And in what appeared to be a significant change of views and her tactics, the first lady also moved to flatter Mnangagwa with praises yesterday, disputing that there was any bad blood between her and the VP.
She said contrary to reports that she was at loggerheads with the Midlands godfather, the two were actually very good friends. She told the crowd that the two had shared a helicopter ride from Harare to yesterday’s rally — and surprised many by chanting a slogan pushing for the under fire VP’s ascendancy to power.
A satisfied Mnangagwa could be seen smiling broadly at Grace’s praises, and duly reciprocated the niceties, exalting the first lady as the Queen Mother.
“You see this man here (Mnangagwa) has a clean history. No one here can doubt the role he played in the war. He fought the war. This man is very upright … let me tell you …,” she said.
She also added that Mnangagwa was more powerful than she was and that she was privileged to associate with both the country’s two vice presidents — a major contrast to Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s recent controversial utterances that Grace was ahead of the VPs on the pecking order.
“Mnangagwa and I are very good friends, very good friends. There is nowhere written that Mai Mugabe will take over. We are law people. We follow the law. I am learned. I am Doctor Mugabe. I read the law. I do not usurp people’s power.
“Even when the president travels, I do not take over, but VaMnangagwa does. What I do is only share a bed with the president,” Grace said.
“If I go around, I am doing it as your mother. It’s my right to go around meeting my family. These things, that I want a post, are coming from people among us who are not progressive. My only privilege is that I sit with the presidium on top, but I am below them. I am actually asking them to teach me the ropes because I am under them and they know better. I want God to help me humble myself,” she said.
Grace also said she did not give orders to the vice presidents, but only shared information that she would have received from the women as their leader.
“I do not give them orders. When I said I tell them stuff to write, I did not mean that I give them orders. I only transfer to them what the women would have told me to pass on, and for them not to forget the information,” she added.
On his part, Mnangagwa thanked Grace for having visited Mberengwa and blessing them with food, knowledge and song — adding that he had been overjoyed by the development.
“We have gathered here because the Queen Mother has come to us. There is no one who becomes the Queen Mother without the Lord’s knowledge and there is no one who becomes King without the Lord’s knowledge.And I as a son of this area, I am elated because when she goes back she will report that she was welcomed. I hope she comes back again and again, with more food and more words of unity,” Mnangagwa said.
Responding to Grace’s statement, People First spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo did not mince any words in dismissing the first lady.
“I don’t want to glorify some of these theatrical and psychiatric comments from these people, it does not help anything. The people of Zimbabwe must judge what kind of people they are dealing with. She was right in my former constituency and for the record, the dam and other water infrastructure in there I built when I was MP for the area and quite honestly with the help of Mai Mujuru when she was Water minister.
“The people of Mberengwa take me as their hero, I went to war, was arrested together with her husband and for her to make such nonsensical comments about me I can’t tolerate. She is soiling my good name, claiming I splashed money in the province, what money do I have.
“The people of Mberengwa are struggling to make ends meet and I have nothing to help them with yet she wants to insult me like that. I am consulting my lawyers to see the possibility of instituting legal proceedings against her,” said Gumbo. – Daily News