President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, on Thursday said she was ready for a top leadership position in Zanu PF and would be equal to the task if the ruling party gives her the greenlight.
Addressing party youths gathered at her orphanage in Mazowe to show their solidarity following her nomination to become the Women’s League boss, Grace said her nomination had presented her with an opportunity to show Zimbabweans that she was made of “sterner stuff”.
Grace warned those in the party who were fanning factionalism and undermining her capabilities that they were “playing with fire”.
“My time has come to show people what I am made of,” Grace warned.
“I have been with President (Robert) Mugabe for many years studying his leadership. I will emulate his candid and visionary
Grace was nominated by all 10 provinces to be the Women Assembly boss on her 49th birthday celebrations two weeks ago. That was after the incumbent Oppah Muchinguri offered to step down to give way to the First Lady whose endorsement will be confirmed when the league meets next week.
Muchinguri said the gesture was to reward the First Lady for campaigning for the party and standing with her husband under difficult circumstances.
Grace said she was humbled by the gesture shown by the Women and Youth leagues and pledged her willingness to end factionalism that has threatened to split the party as the race to succeed Mugabe (90) is gaining momentum.
But Grace said she was a “bouncer” and a “force to reckon with”.
“I might have a small fist. But when it comes to fighting, I will put stones inside to enlarge it, or even put on gloves to make it bigger. Do not doubt my capabilities,” Grace said.
In an apparent jibe believed to have been targeted at Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who is believed to be leading a faction fighting to succeed Mugabe, she said people should not use money to buy positions as one’s destiny was planned by God.
Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are believed to be fronting two factions vying for the Presidency although they have both denied harbouring such ambitions.
“People should learn to wait for their time. Patience pays. Here I am, I never dreamt of entering politics, but you have approached me to do so and I am ready to go. You said you want to work with me and I say yes, but you should know that I am strict,” Grace said.
She denied reports that she had forced Mugabe to remain in office as both party and government leader to protect her family and business empire.
Grace also threatened to deal with Zanu PF Mazowe South MP Fortune Chasi, alleging that he was frustrating her intentions to take over Manzou Game Park, where she wanted to build a secondary school, hospital and Robert Mugabe University to generate revenue to support orphans.
“I don’t worry, I will rein him in,” Grace said, resulting in the crowd going into a frenzy chanting anti-Chasi slogans and threatening war against the Justice deputy minister.
She also attacked MDC Renewal Team leader Tendai Biti saying “he should go to hell” for questioning her aptitude. She said although she might not be highly educated, she was a hard worker and destined for greater heights.
Grace attacked the media for constantly writing negative stories about her, saying it showed she was a “political giant”. She said the attacks would embolden and strengthen her resolve to climb the country’s political ladder.
Speaking at the same event, Muchinguri castigated factionalism, saying some people were even intending to kill her and even Mugabe in order to take over power.
Muchinguri described factional leaders as “thieves” who had looted the country’s wealth and wanted to gain political power to protect their loot.
“We hear others were given bedspreads and money by Americans. Others are hidden in mountains. Why those desperate moves? They came from (Abel) Muzorewa and other parties and we accepted them in Zanu PF, now they say Mugabe should go. Why?” Muchinguri queried.
This was in apparent reference to Higher Education minister Olivia Muchena and Minister of State in the President’s Office Flora Bhuka, who was reportedly defeated in her bid to represent Midlands province in the central committee yesterday.
Youth chairpersons from all the party’s 10 provinces pledged their support for Grace.