Zanu PF hawks have reportedly started pushing for First Lady Grace Mugabe to contest the Harare East constituency, formerly occupied by MDC Renewal secretary general Tendai Biti.
This comes amid predictions by analysts that the MDC-T dominance in urban seats was under threat as Zanu PF was working on grabbing the opposition seats following the recent dismissal from Parliament of 21 MDC Renewal MPs.
The Standard was told, the recall of 21 Renewal Team MPs has created room for Grace to contest Harare East and speculation is that she is amenable to the idea.
Zanu PF officials said the Godwills Masimirembwa-led Harare provincial executive and the Godfrey Gomwe-led provincial youth wing — eager to please the First Family — had already started moves to approach Grace to convince her to stand in Harare East.
Grace, who is the party’s Secretary for Women’s League, was now reportedly ready to become the Minister of Women’s Affairs, currently vacant after Oppah Muchinguri was moved to the Higher Education portfolio.
“We are being told the move to urge Grace to contest the Harare East seat is being pushed by Harare province. But on the other hand, we are also seeing the First couple’s own aides and a few other party heavyweights quietly toying with the idea of her contesting,” said a senior Zanu PF official.
“So at the moment it is not yet clear whose idea it is, whether it is Grace herself or other people bootlicking the First Family.”
Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday could neither confirm nor deny Grace’s interest in Harare East.
“Is that what you want to speculate? Anybody in the party can be a candidate anywhere,” Kasukuwere said curtly.
Masimirembwa also said the province had not started the identification of candidates yet.
“We don’t have candidates for the seats in Harare yet as we wait to get direction from the national leadership. We want their direction on the matter,” Masimirembwa said.
Grace’s candidature, insiders say, cannot be ruled out as speculation has been high since December that she would join her husband’s cabinet after her ascension into the politburo. However, her handicap has been her lack of a parliamentary seat which is a pre-requisite for one to be a minister under the Constitution.
Grace was last year endorsed as Zanu PF Women’s League boss after she was reportedly approached by the then outgoing Muchinguri executive and war collaborators. But it turned out that Grace herself, with the support of a few party hawks, engineered her political rise which coincided with the fall of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
The former VP was viciously attacked by Grace who accused her of corruption and of trying to topple Mugabe. The First Lady has rapidly grown to be the kingmaker in Zanu PF following her appointment as the Women’s League boss at the disputed December 6th national congress.
Other seats to be contested include Harare East, Kambuzuma, Kuwadzana, Glen View South, Dzivarasekwa and Highfield West.
Zanu PF officials yesterday said the party was determined to get all the seats in Harare and will leave no stone unturned to achieve this.
“If we managed to get Epworth, Mt Pleasant and Harare South in 2013, what can stop us now? We will get all the seats this time around,” said an official.