Time to retire: Mugabe urged

HARARE – After fronting the brutal purging of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and other stalwarts in the warring Zanu PF last year, and swiftly moving to become arguably the single most powerful person in the country, the political tide appears to be turning against controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe.\r\n\r\nBy Fungi Kwarambamugabe\r\n\r\nWell-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that Grace’s “desperate attempts” over the past few days to placate Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his counterpart Phelekezela Mphoko, as well as her move to play down the ruling party’s worsening factional and succession wars, showed that she was “feeling the heat”.\r\n\r\n“The problem is that Amai (Grace) is out of her depth in politics, and never appeared to have a cogent plan from day one, other than her public agenda to destroy Mai Mujuru and protect her business interests. Now she is running out of oxygen, hence all the desperation to reverse gear on many fronts.\r\n\r\n“It has not helped that ambitious and destructive elements within the Gang of Four and the broader G40 (Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks) group moved very quickly earlier on to abuse her and take advantage of her evident political naivety. It’s a disaster,” a long-serving ruling party official said.\r\n\r\nAnother official scathingly described Grace as “the epicentre of anarchy” and “the grand mistress of gossip and confusion” in the party, in the wake of her continuing flip-flopping over the existence, causes and alleged instigators of the ruling party’s deepening infighting.\r\n\r\n“For too long, many pretended that all was well and hoped that Amai (Grace) would ultimately come to her senses. But that is clearly a pipe dream and things are getting worse. She is the epicentre of the anarchy and also the grand mistress of gossip and confusion in the party. Clearly, she will not rest until the party is completely destroyed.\r\n\r\n“I honestly sympathise with the president who has the difficult and unenviable task of always having to clean up her vomit, as if managing the raging factionalism is not a big job enough already. Honestly, when will this chaos stop and who will stop it,” he said.\r\n\r\nBut observers say it is not only Grace who is reeling under political pressure, pointing to Mugabe’s recent utterances in which he has insulted both the dead and the living as also betraying the fact that he was battling to keep his party’s ugly infighting under control.\r\n\r\nAs a result, liberation struggle stalwarts yesterday accused the nonagenarian of being trapped in “a time warp” — with his continuous attacks on the late struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru, particularly displeasing many war veterans.\r\n\r\nEven though it is four years since the late General Mujuru’s remains were discovered after a mysterious fire at his Beatrice farm, his name remains one of the most talked about within Zanu PF’s corridors of power — with his widow, former Vice President Joice Mujuru, continuing to be a subject of much vilification and derision among senior officials of the party.\r\n\r\nOn Friday, Mugabe once again attacked the late general, accusing the man credited with catapulting the nonagenarian to the leadership of Zanu PF of having allegedly worked in cahoots with Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni and respected academic, Ibbo Mandaza, to remove him from power.\r\n\r\nAddressing the Women’s League in Harare, Mugabe claimed that the trio of General Mujuru, Mandaza and Makoni had hatched a plan to have Zanu PF legislators winning elections and him losing the 2008 presidential elections.\r\n\r\nBut speaking in separate interviews with the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, both Mandaza and Makoni dismissed Mugabe’s assertions, saying they were baseless. Mandaza, who has intimate knowledge of the ruling party and its senior officials, said Mugabe’s fixation with the 2008 election defeat was shocking.\r\n\r\n“I don’t know what he is talking about. The election was a contest in which Makoni was a presidential candidate and obviously, the intention was to beat Mugabe, and he (Mugabe) lost the first round. – Daily News