By Sij Ncube
HARARE, October 9, 2015 – IT does not need a political science introductory lecture to decipher who is in charge of Zanu (PF) and to a larger extent President Robert Mugabe’s administration.
Mugabe’s wife Grace all but confirmed she is the boss during her address Thursday to the Zanu PF faithful in Chimanimani, Manicaland, telling all those who cared to listen and hear that she is the referee in the faction-riddled party.
As if to confirm her newly found status in the party, which together with old Zapu brought independence in 1980 after an intense bush-war against colonial Britain, Grace warned she might be forced again to cause the purging of dissenters in the revolutionary she accused of fomenting divisions.
“It will come another time when I will be prompted to blow the whistle. I am likening politics to a football match because we say ‘bhora mugedhi” (ball in the net) in Zanu PF and am the referee,” said Grace. “All members are playing the match and if you infringe on anyone, I will blow the whistle.”
Analysts canvassed by Radio VOP say as the referee Grace has flashed the yellow card to caution perceived errant party members. But she has also intimated she holds the red card, which she can pull out of her back pocket to summarily cause the dismissal of a player adjudged to have infringed the rule of the game, rightly or wrongly.
The analysts agree that while it has long been suspected Grace pulled the strings in Zanu (PF) and the government, particularly in the light of her husbands advanced age and suspected poor health, her utterances on Thursday vindicates former war veterans chairman Jabulani Sibanda over his ‘bedroom coup’ claims soon after the purging of former vice president Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru, together with other top former Zanu (PF) officials among them former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa and former spokesman Rugare Gumbo, were summarily fired from the party alleged at the behest of Grace ostensibly for allegedly plotting to kill and oust Mugabe from power.
While Sibanda awaits his day in court of his bedroom coup utterances, the party purged nearly 200 officials, a development which to all intents and purposes has created further fissures in Zanu (PF) as factions battled to succeed Mugabe.
In another clear sign of Grace being a new centre of power and influence in Zanu (PF), vice president Phelekezela Mphoko, broke all protocol when he elected to introduce Grace instead of the other way round at the Thursday rally.
Party insiders claim Mphoko, by virtue of being the second in commander to Mugabe together with vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, should have been introduced by Grace as Zanu (PF) protocol requires since she occupies an inferior position as leader of the Women’s League.
However analysts have been quick to point out both vice presidents take notes from Grace, adding that it was further confirmation she ruled the roost in Zanu (PF) and Mugabe’s administration, adding that her ranting and bragging in Chimanimani Thursday spotlighted where power currently lies in Zanu PF.
Maxwell Saungweme, an international political analyst closely following developments in Zanu( PF), says Grace’s public pronouncements that she is the party’s referee and her recent shenanigans in Manicaland vindicate Sibanda for quipping yesteryear that Grace had staged a bedroom coup.
Saungweme noted that Grace has in less than a year successfully taken advantage of failing faculties of her husband due to advanced age and started taking leadership of the party and government business by hook and crook.
“She has been flouting constitutions of both Zanu(PF) and the country by calling the shots in the party far beyond the remit of an ordinary party member and now the head of the women’s wing. She has been determining how government business is run, who gets appointed to what ministry yet our Constitution does not grant a First Lady any such powers,” said Saungweme.
In her address Grace claimed Manicaland was an important province for Zanu PF, pointing out that it has seven ministers, adding that she would not allow it to be torn asunder by factionalism.
“She is indeed the real game in town in Zanu(PF), thanks to a multiplicity of factors that include failed faculties of the husband, the Mugabe dynasty the husband created, the failure of the husband to put in place a coherent succession plan, a culture of personality cultism and bootlicking in ZANU PF,” added Saungweme.
“In government she does what she is doing, thanks to our docility as citizens, clueless opposition parties and a civil society failing to provide direction to the ordinary men and women in the country.
“With her and what she is doing, the country’s fortunes are set to further plummet into abyss. You can’t attract serious investors in a jungle-like investor climate country where a directionless First Lady usurps the husband’s power and behaves as if she is in government when she is not.”
Gladys Hlatywayo, a gender activist and political analyst, concurred, pointing out that at his prime Mugabe was the referee but now the First Lady is playing that role.
“This essentially means she has since assumed some roles of the President. The assumption is that if she is increasingly helping her husband at home in light of his advanced age she can help him in all his other duties. Obviously that’s a wrong assumption,” said Hlatywayo.
Popular blogger and political analyst, Takura Zhangazha, chipped in saying Grace is indicating that she is now second in command of the party and essentially everything must be done in consultation with her. “It appears she wants to build her own popular base,” said Zhangazha, adding that Sibanda’s bedroom claims are slowly but surely being vindicated.