FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe yesterday set the ball rolling in what is seen as the final push to annihilate a Zanu PF faction reportedly linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, popularly known as “Team Lacoste”, as she declared she is firmly in charge of the ruling party.
Grace made the remarks while addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters in Mazowe South, where she urged people to “watch this space” for the unravelling of the Lacoste faction.
“Those engaging in factionalism should stop it forthwith. The time is nearing for telling each other the truth. I am not eyeing any post because I am in charge already.
“Could I be more in charge than this (current status as First Lady)? People say Amai Mugabe wants to rule yet I am ruling,” she said in reference to introductions made by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, who said Mugabe’s deputies were third in the pecking order, insinuating Grace was second.
Without mentioning names, Grace did not mince her words in declaring Mnangagwa’s days were numbered together with those of his allies, particularly war veterans’ chairman, Christopher Mutsvangwa, who has been in the firing line for some time now following clashes with the G40 faction.
In scenes reminiscent of the manner in which Joice Mujuru was axed as Vice-President, Grace said there were people consulting witchdoctors to kill President Robert Mugabe and were also going around demanding 30% from companies across the country.
“We want to respect each other,” she said. “Personally, while addressing rallies, I have my own people who will be chanting Mazowe crush, Mazowe crush.
“When sitting at a round table and if (national commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere asks me what Mazowe crush means and I say don’t know, that will be madness. That is what is happening. People are now wearing T-shirts written Lacoste and then after being asked what that means, they say it’s a perfume.
“We are not children and please don’t abuse the President’s totem. We see them in the papers wearing T-shirts written Lacoste, with the Zimbabwe flag. We don’t want to abuse that flag, it has a meaning and let us not abuse it.”
Zanu PF is divided into two distinct factions, with one backing Mnangagwa and another ambitious Generation 40 (G40), which reportedly has the backing of the First Lady.
Grace also took the opportunity to defend Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, the target of a State media onslaught and a rival group that wanted him expelled for allegedly abusing social media to attack Mnangagwa and his allies.
Grace insinuated that the foiled bombing at the First Family’s dairy concern was the work of people in the party opposed to her husband’s continued rule, warning a time would come when she named the instigators. She admitted Zanu PF factionalism had reached alarming levels and it was now time to stem it.
“I said it myself, Mugabe’s wife, that if he faces challenges in walking, I will put him in a wheelbarrow and take him to work,” she said, adding those angling to usurp his power had no capacity.
The First Lady said those pushing for Mugabe’s ouster on account of his age were also themselves old and were not fit for leadership higher than their current posts.
Grace said those who thought they would succeed Mugabe had exposed themselves and she no longer had confidence in them. Turning to war veterans, Grace said even those who did not go to the liberation war played a part and they deserved respect.
In apparent reference to Mutsvangwa, the First Lady said he should stop acting like a super war vet and allow himself to be counselled. “We don’t want to be told senseless things because when you came back from the war, who prepared sadza for you? Was it not your mother? Today you are saying Grace Mugabe should not admonish you because you were in the liberation war,” she said.
“I warned him on Wednesday to stop what he is doing and if he did not, I would expose him. “There are other people who think they are too clever, saying I was in the war and I did this and that, but if we give him a gun now to shoot me, you will be surprised he will shoot himself, yet he has been bragging about what he says he did in the liberation war.”
Grace defended Moyo, who was entangled in a bitter fight with Mutsvangwa, a known Mnangagwa ally. “I said it on Wednesday that we should stop trading insults,” she continued. “They said Amai Mugabe is defending Jonathan, but does Jonathan exchange those insults on his own? Is he insane? Can you say such an intelligent person is mad? He was exchanging insults with those who talk too much.”
In the unrestrained attack, Grace also berated State media for launching concerted attacks on Moyo, accusing them of being used. Mutsvangwa and Moyo have been exchanging words, with the war veterans’ boss claiming the late nationalist Ndabaningi Sithole was the Higher Education minister’s father.
But Grace said it was not fair to insult others on paternity, before saying some were keeping other people’s children. Not to be outdone Kasukuwere also warned: “Its a bareknuckle fight we are coming to the Midlands, Mash East and Masvingo. You stopped women from coming to welcome the President claiming it was a Kasukuwere plot. Now we are coming for you.”
Grace was accompanied by Mphoko and several ministers including Moyo, Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao. Mphoko also spoke strongly against those eyeing Mugabe’s position.