By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
28 July 2014
President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace was this weekend nominated to the top of the ruling ZANU PF’s powerful Women’s League as its Secretary, as SW Radio Africa reported Friday.
The position will also secure Grace a position in the party’s supreme decision-making body the politburo. The party is expected to rubberstamp Grace’s elevation to high office at its congress in December, taking over from Gender Minister Oppah Muchinguri.
An elated Grace described her nomination as God’s work. “I am overwhelmed and I am shaking right now. I cannot believe this is what you have decided, but this is God’s work, and those speaking here are mouthpieces of God,” she told the women who had gathered at one of her several farms to mark her 49th birthday.
For many observers, Grace’s entry into active politics introduces a new dimension in the ZANU PF succession politics which has so far been hogged by two factions led by Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Some say it is possible that President Mugabe is grooming his wife to take over from him in the near future, in order to secure the family’s vast business interests.
Others say she has been thrown into the fray to neutralise the ambitious Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions that have been covertly jostling for control of the party, and her role will largely be that of a kingmaker.
There are others like Piers Pigou, of the International Crisis Group, who thinks that Grace lacks the political clout and popularity to make it to the Presidium.
“Grace Mugabe is unpopular in the country and disliked by senior members of the party. She is tolerated but she has never demonstrated any political acumen or vision. She plays the role of a philanthropic first lady and praise singer for her husband and will continue to do the same inside the Womens’ League,” Pigou told UK newspaper The Telegraph.
South Africa-based Zim academic and political analyst DiniZulu Macaphulana said Grace’s entrance into active politics should be a cause for concern for Zimbabwe.
“She brings into Zim politics a certain kind of fundamentalism and extremism that should make us very afraid. Notice how she couches her nomination in religious terms.
“For her and those around her she has been chosen by God and anyone who dares challenge her will be deemed to be against God and nothing will stop them from punishing any challengers,” Macaphulana said.
Macaphulana agreed with those who say that Grace is also driven by the desire to safeguard the First family’s business empire.
“She comes not only to protect her own interests but also of other individuals from the business and religious world,” Macaphulana added.
Macaphulana said Grace was just coming out into the open, adding that she has always influenced her husband’s political decisions.