HARARE – This week’s Zanu-PF conference is unlikely to produce the fireworks of last year’s elective conference, which witnessed the public sidelining of vice-president Joice Mujuru.
The gathering, under way at a Victoria Falls resort until Saturday, is expected to confirm 91-year-old Robert Mugabe as party leader and sole candidate for the 2018 elections.
But all eyes will be on Mugabe’s wife, Grace, 50, whose rise in the ruling party hierarchy has been as emphatic as her loyalty to her ageing husband, whom she has vowed to push to the elections “in a wheelchair” if required.
Grace has repeatedly made the point that she has no presidential ambitions.
However, according to Bloomberg, she told a rally in Masvingo last week she ”cannot be counted out” as a possible successor to Mugabe.
“I might be new in Zanu-PF, but I am not junior to anyone. I am the wife of the president. I am humble. I say baba (father) to vice-president [Phekezela] Mphoko, but he knows I am senior,” she said.
Meanwhile on Wednesday Mugabe castigated divisions and rivalry caused by some party members who are jostling for senior positions in the party hierarchy.
Mugabe addressed his party’s 15th National People’s Conference Central Committee meeting at the party headquarters in Harare.
He told the Central Committee members that there is no need to back bite each other or assassinate one another’s character but instead help maintain unity in the party.
He said though the elections are in 2018, some individuals in the party are already buying votes and using unorthodox means to win people in preparation for taking over high positions.
“Some party leaders are planting falsehoods in the media in a ploy to tarnish others’ characters, and this is putting dirt in the party,” said Mugabe.
On the votes of no confidence and suspensions, Mugabe noted that due processes should be followed before individuals are dismissed or suspended.
“Provincial chairpersons must respect members appointed in the provinces,” he added.
Mugabe urged farmers to make maximum use of the little rains expected this year, saying drought is imminent.
Those with access to dams and irrigation schemes should allow others to use the water and help avert hunger in the face of the imminent drought, he added.
Mugabe began his address by paying tribute to the Women’s League and the Commissariat, arms of the party that have kept in touch with the masses through mobilisation.
Meanwhile, war veterans have paid homage to their patron, Mugabe for denouncing greed driven votes of no confidence.
One of the war veterans, Joseph Chinotimba said the association has been infiltrated by some divisive elements who are bent on furthering their personal agenda.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the Central Committee meeting held at the party headquarters in Harare this Wednesday.