HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly influential wife, Grace, has now admitted openly that she plotted the ouster of former Vice President Joice Mujuru over petty gossip — an ill-advised move that has seen the warring ruling Zanu PF officially splitting into two bitterly-opposed formations, as Zimbabwe burns economically.
BRIDGET MANANAVIRE AND MUGOVE TAFIRENYIKA
Appearing to shoot herself in the foot, multiple times, the controversial First Lady also admitted to State media at the weekend that she had caused the callous eviction of poor villagers from Manzou Farm in Mazowe — which is to be turned into a game park.
Her various stunning admissions in the rambling interview with State media, which was done as she celebrated her 50th birthday, confirmed wholesale what the Daily News has consistently and accurately written about over the past year, regarding Zanu PF’s deadly infighting, as well as her starring role in the anarchy.
Speaking about Mujuru, Grace said revealingly that she used “to hear a lot of things that were taking place in terms of the former vice president”.
What had broken the camel’s back were the disruptions she experienced when she mounted her controversial rallies around the country last year, and as Zanu PF imploded — which she blamed on the former VP.
“The one thing I did not like was that as I was going on the tour last year — the Meet the People Tour — they put together a group of boys, gave them money, bought them beer, got them drunk and sent them to boo me when I was addressing; making noise, beating drums, shouting and I endured that.
“In almost all the provinces, it was like that at every rally. It was happening, but I later said enough was enough. You cannot continue to do this to me. I have been very quiet for a very long time.
“Things have been said, written and gossiped about me. I said enough was enough; if you actually want now to translate it into public fight, let’s go for it. I also have a mouth to talk, I have a brain to think. So, I said this should stop forthwith (laughs). That’s why people talk about “Stop it!” (laughs) because they were dividing the party.
“She (Mujuru) had a faction, which was working against the president and we had only one president elected and only one centre of power. She was now making her own clique with people who were following her and to them, it was a foregone conclusion that she was going to be the president of this country and where they got that from, we didn’t understand.
“This should have come from the party and she could have waited. I loved her so much, I tell you. She disappointed me. I liked her so much. She knew that I liked her, but she was very elusive in her ways. She didn’t even want to communicate with me.
“I think it had more to do with the people who advised her. She chose the wrong people to advise her. Unfortunately, she caused all this that happened. She could have easily listened to advice. I even sent people to talk to her: ‘You are over trusting other people’,” Grace told The Sunday Mail.
“She did not want to take advice from me. I sent people to talk to her, but she thought I was foolish, or I wanted to stop her ambitions. However, I was very genuine about the things I did for her.
“Other women and I campaigned for her to be in that position; she must not forget. The president supported her fully to be in that position, but she started being too ambitious. She could have waited for her time.
“I’m telling you; she had an opportunity, a very good opportunity if she had kept her cool and listened to the advice of others. She would be somewhere today. But she decided to do things the wrong way and she has herself to blame — unfortunately,” she added.
Turning to Manzou Farm, Grace said all that her critics appeared to speak about was how she had taken the land from the poor.
“And how many people really have been displaced? They lie, ‘600 people’, but there were no 600 people in Mazowe at that place. There were few people who had put up structures; they really were not solid structures. It’s not just in Mazowe where people have been moved from a place because that place wants to be developed,” she said.
Not surprisingly, Grace denied in the interview that she had ambitions to take over the presidency from her nonagenarian husband, even though many people had approached her to do so — adding that she had resisted offers for a ministerial post.
“When these people who actually think they are the ones who want to take over after Mugabe imagine that Mugabe’s wife has those ambitions, they actually start mudslinging. I know some detractors are writing about it, that Mugabe is grooming his wife to become the president after he retires and it will never stop because they are people who think they are the ones to take over out there,” she said.
Analysts and political rivals who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said Grace’s “confessions” had exposed her as “a reckless and vindictive politician” who was in the knack of acting out of emotion and lacked political acumen.
Afghanistan-based political commentator, Maxwell Saungweme, said scathingly that if anything, Grace’s confessions betrayed the fact that she was “not as smart a politician as Mugabe”.
“Smart politicians like her husband don’t brag about such very negative issues. Evicting people is very insensitive, and it shows how unwise she is as a politician to admit that,” Saungweme said.
Secretary general of the MDC Renewal, Tendai Biti, said Zimbabwe was being governed by selfish people who wasted their energies on petty issues, instead of solving the country’s deepening economic problems.
“These people are driven by malice and subjectivity, without any concern for the people. If Grace and Mugabe could put all the energy they expended on fighting Mujuru over petty gossip, then this country would be a $50 billion economy.
“Unfortunately, we are being governed by very selfish people, incompetent people, greedy people, vindictive and cruel people and it’s sad in a country where unemployment is 90 percent, where four million of our citizens have left the country.
“The country is churning out thousands of graduates every year, only for them to become vendors and I think we are the only country in the world with educated vendors because I discovered when I talked to Harare vendors last week that one in every five is a graduate,” Biti said.
The spokesperson for MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, Luke Tamborinyoka, described Grace as “a disgrace to the nation who now wanted to unnecessarily divert people’s attention from the real issues affecting the country”.
“Because of her antics, she has become an unnecessary diversion from the real issues afflicting the country. She is vending executive powers she does not formerly have in public places and should therefore be the first vendor to be removed from our streets,” Tamborinyoka said.