THE entry into the political fray by First Lady Grace Mugabe has created a mixture of excitement, anxiety and consternation within Zimbabwean politics. Those excited are genuine Zanu-PF supporters who view this as a positive development which will usher in a new era in the modus operandi of the Party, whereby frankness and candidness will become the order of the day. Further, the First Lady is viewed as an injection of new blood into the top echelons of the Party.
Those who have suffered an anxiety attack are Zanu- PF factionalists, particularly those who, hitherto to this development, had been working on a succession plan that would have led to the complete erosion of the Mugabe legacy. These are the so-called moderates in the ruling party.
The MDC supporters and the regime change brigade at large have reacted with consternation to the First lady’s emergence as a political force. Their reaction has been predictable. Brickbats, accompanied by unprintable insults, have been hurled at the First Lady. The bottom line, however, is that whichever way one chooses to interpret the emerging political dynamics in the ruling party, there is no denying the fact that the First Lady has arrived on the political scene with a bang. From the day the idea was mooted that she should take over as the Secretary of the powerful Zanu-PF Women’s League, delegations representing a wide cross section of interests have visited her Mazowe Children’s Home to congratulate her as well as to show their solidarity.
Youths, members of the Women’s league, chiefs, heads of churches and many other interest groups have visited and urged her not to look back and take up the challenge. The idea that the multitudes of groups, representing a wide cross-section of society who have gone to Mazowe to show solidarity with the First Lady, have been coerced to do so is simply devoid of logic and is nonsensical.
Having accepted the nomination to lead the powerful Women’s League, the First Lady has embarked on a nationwide tour, which has so far taken her to all provinces to meet the people, mostly members of the women’s league. The rallies have been well attended and the message has been consistent and well articulated.
At all the rallies, the First Lady has firmly kept the eye on the ball. Cde Mugabe has been unrelenting in her bashing of factionalism. She has attacked power hungry senior male Zanu-PF politicians who abuse their positions by resorting to vote buying in order to influence electoral outcomes. She has castigated those who seek positions for power’s sake but go on to sleep on duty once elected into office. She has denounced the culture of failing to fulfil and honour election promises. She has warned Zanu-PF not to take people for granted by not attending to the economic situation with the urgency it deserves. The First Lady has eloquently articulated issues of national security by cautioning the party leadership to be wary of their dealings with foreign intelligence agents embedded in Embassies. Giving events in countries like Libya and Iraq as examples, Cde Mugabe has pitched for the implementation of Zim-Asset.
Significantly and most importantly, the First Lady has forcefully clarified and restated that some power hungry individuals through slogans, had mischievously articulated the First Secretary and President, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe lead Zanu-PF. Zanu-PF is not led by a Presidium consisting of several individuals with equal powers. Simply put, Cde Mugabe has laid down the Law of Moses as far as the Party is concerned.
To the genuine Zanu-PF supporters, the First Lady’s approach has been a breath of fresh air. She has called a spade a spade. She has been frank. Above all, she has been fearless and unrelenting. This is a welcome departure from the lies, deceit, intrigue and ambush politics which had come to characterise the revolutionary party.
For some time, Zanu-PF has been drifting, moving from crisis to crisis with no one daring to challenge those with a penchant for deviance. At Goromonzi in 2007, a known group openly revolted and tried to stage a coup. Nothing happened to them. As if that was not enough treachery, by the end of 2007 and at the beginning of 2008, the same Goromonzi conspirators, formed/founded/sponsored Simba Makoni to come up with the Mavambo project. This Mavambo project, with its bhora musango cousin, was to cost Zanu-PF dearly in the March 29, 2008 harmonised polls. Again not a word was said about this group and no action was taken.
During the 2008 June Presidential runoff, this group was conspicuous by its absence from the trenches, only to emerge and clamour for plum posts in the Inclusive Government.
In 2012, this group miserably lost the Zanu-PF District Coordinating Council (DCC) elections, only to turn around and allege that the DCCs were divisive and therefore had to be abolished. This is the same group which became so cozy with the MDC in the Inclusive Government, that it was reluctant to go for elections in 2013. This group had to be dragged to the polls by President Mugabe kicking and screaming.
This is the group who by virtue of the positions they hold in the party went on to organise shambolic primary elections, which they rigged ahead of the 2013 general elections. In November and December 2014, the same group organised and conducted equally shambolic Provincial elections which were characterised by widespread vote buying, intimidation and chicanery. To crown it all this is the same group that has over the past decade presided over suspensions/expulsions of members wily nilly. The trail of destruction is there for all to see.
Finally, this group’s luck ran out during the 2014 National Youth Conference where they unashamedly engaged in open vote buying and intimidation. This they did thinking that it was going to be business as usual. In their excitement and recklessness, they had forgotten that President Mugabe is a complex political animal. In fact, he is the ultimate political gladiator. All along, they thought that Mugabe was finished and the party was ready for capture.
In addition to the chaotic, shambolic and trademark incompetent manner in which they organised the National Youth Conference, they openly tore the political rulebook and engaged in all sorts of political thuggery. They expected that the Party’s First Secretary and President would as usual keep quiet. After all, he had tolerated their political idiosyncrasies since 2007. Some say since the 2004 Congress. They mistook quietness for weakness. They failed to read that what they took for foolishness was in fact cunning. They underrated President Mugabe and foolishly convinced themselves that he was a coward and finished. How wrong they were. The old political fox, which all along had pretended to be culled, to be owned by them, exploded. The rest is history.
The First Lady is carrying a message from the President. Anybody who thinks otherwise is a novice in politics. It is inconceivable that the openness and candidness with which she has delivered her speeches, could occur without the President’s blessing. She has come out as someone who is well briefed regarding the long-term machinations of some people in the party. She has said that WE (meaning her and the President) know what is happening. The First Family is aware of the efforts to subvert and trash the Mugabe legacy.
What is exciting and energising the rank and file membership is that for the first time in many years, here is a leader who is packing a punch, a leader who is taking no prisoners, a leader who has taken the bull by the horns and is calling the malcontents to order. The malcontents are stunned and they are reeling. This is why the genuine Zanu-PF supporter is excited and has become optimistic about the future of the Party. Despair, which had crept into the ranks of the Party, was a result of perceptions that the party had lost the capacity to confront critical issues. This despair is now being replaced by renewed optimism that transgressors will be called to order. The Party is now moving forward and it shall.
The factionalists are troubled and rightly so. Their plans have been scuttled. The lists of candidates they had prepared in readiness for takeover at the December Congress are in tatters. Some political careers, which had been nurtured and had blossomed under factionalism, now face an uncertain future. A good number of political careers are simply doomed.
The MDC and the plethora of regime change opposition operators view the developments around the First Lady with consternation and despondency. Through commentaries in opposition regime change media, there is evidence of panic. The verdict has been unanimous; “Grace, through her reckless utterances is destroying Zanu-PF”, they have screamed. Is the First Lady really destroying Zanu PF?
Surely if this was the case, why not urge her on, for she will be accomplishing what they as part of the regime change effort failed to do with the millions they received from the Westminster Foundation, USAid, Cida, Sida, Danida and other Western donors.
Surely if First Lady Mugabe can accomplish what over 3,000 NGOs, which were created and funded to destroy Zanu- PF, failed to, why don’t they applaud and urge her on. The question is why is the private media whose sole purpose and agenda has been Zanu-PF bashing all of a sudden is worried that their beloved punch bag is in trouble. The bottom line is that those under attack by the First Lady had presented themselves as the moderates in Zanu-PF. Their cohorts dotted all over the place under various guises have reason to be alarmed. It has to be stated so called moderates in Zanu-PF are not being attacked for being moderate; they are being attacked and exposed for pushing an agenda which is at variance with the Party’s core values and ideology. Simply put the so-called moderates are at variance with what the Party stands for.
In fact, in Zanu-PF vocabulary or lingo, being called a moderate is the same as being called a sellout (mutengesi). The ideology and modus operandi of Zanu-PF from inception is Militant Pan Africanism, Militant and robust execution of the liberation struggle, unapologetic reclamation of God given resources including land, restating and reclamation of the dignity of the African in his motherland Zimbabwe and general belief in the doctrine of, “we are masters of our own destiny”. That is Zanu-PF nothing more nothing less. These are ideals which the First Lady is simply restating. She is not undermining anyone and she is certainly not destroying the Party. It is up to those who are feeling the heat to shape up or ship out.