By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
25 July 2014
President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace has declared her intention to vie for political office by seeking nomination to become ZANU PF’s next chairperson of the powerful Women’s League.
The position, which is up for grabs at the party’s elective congress in December, will also ensure that she becomes a member of the top organ of ZANU PF, the Politburo.
On Friday hundreds of Women’s League members, including provincial chairpersons and other executive members, will give formal consent to the idea when they converge at the first family’s Gushungo business empire in Mazowe. The occasion coincides with celebrations to mark the first lady’s 49th birthday.
The entry of Grace into mainstream politics has sparked debate over her husband’s succession intentions. In February, during an interview to mark his 90th birthday, President Mugabe hinted that neither Vice-President Joice Mujuru nor Justice Minister Emmerson Mnagangwa would take over the reins, because of their alleged part in fomenting factionalism in ZANU PF.
Almost everyone thought Mugabe was making an empty threat, perhaps not knowing he was hiding something for a later surprise. The weekly Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday that Grace’s entrance onto the political stage could change the dynamics of the succession matrix in ZANU PF. The Women’s League has been powerful in influencing critical decisions in the party.
The paper said both the Mujuru and Mnangagwa camps were caught unawares and would likely struggle to regroup from the latest development. While Grace is a political novice among the many veteran ZANU PF politicians, her husband’s influence in a party he has ruled for close to 40 years will be crucial if she decides to be a contender for the presidency.
With Grace’s entry into active politics she would become a kingmaker with a lot of influence, and may hold the key to the next presidential candidate.
Political analyst Isaac Dziya told us that Grace’s decision to venture into politics might have been influenced by many things, one of which may be that her husband’s political career is now coming to an end.
‘I think she wants to safeguard her future and that of her children. She might not want the presidency but a key political position that is influential to safeguard the legacy of her husband and that of her vast business interests,’ Dziya said.