HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly influential, but gaffe-prone wife, Grace, is flaunting her ambitions and political power more and more, boasting yet again yesterday that no one could stop her from aiming for the leadership of Zanu PF, and that even her husband had failed to silence her from publicly shellacking former Vice President Joice Mujuru.

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Speaking at yet another rally of hers at Murombedzi Growth Point, in Mashonaland West — with dozens of fawning Cabinet ministers, Zanu PF legislators and other party bigwigs in tow — Grace also called on supporters of the warring ruling party to report to her any misdemeanours by senior party and government officials, promising that she would ensure that they were dealt with severely.

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And taking her familiar pot-shots at the vanquished Mujuru, she accused the widow of the late liberation struggle icon, General Solomon Mujuru, of allegedly paying a whopping $2 million to “a certain newspaper” to write negative stories about her.

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“A certain newspaper was paid two million by Mujuru to write bad about me. I accept criticism but it must be constructive criticism. Don’t criticise me because you hate my husband. Time will come when president Mugabe is gone, (and at that point) you will regret and wish that the president was around,” Grace said ominously.

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The controversial First Lady claimed falsely late last year that Mujuru had bought a 10 percent shareholding in the country’s leading newspaper, the Daily News — lies that later led police to apply for a court order authorising them to raid the paper, to scrutinise its ownership structure, and all to no avail.

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With her nonagenarian husband, Mugabe, now looking decidedly tired and frail — and even cutting down substantially on his usually long public speeches — insiders within the divided post-congress Zanu PF say Grace is dreaming anew about succeeding Zimbabwe’s long-ruling leader.

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While Grace has in the past masked and even denied harbouring any presidential ambitions, she has over the past few weeks increasingly shown her hand — with her army of vociferous supporters chanting very clear slogans to this effect yesterday, saying “Pasi nevanhu vanoti Eve haatongi (Down with those who say Grace can’t rule Zimbabwe”.

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“When I went to Mashonaland East (during her so-called Meet the People rallies last year), that is when I made it public that the demon I had earlier referred to in Mashonaland Central was Joice Mujuru.

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“She thought that the president was going to stop me, saying I was washing our dirty linen in the public, but was surprised when he kept quiet. I am an adult and besides, I have my own weight as a member of Zanu PF and can participate in party activities freely. Nobody can stop me,” Grace said, once again exposing her increasingly lame-duck husband.

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And in yet another stark warning to ambitious bigwigs angling to succeed Mugabe, Grace warned them that she would not hesitate to decapitate them in the manner that she has done to many over the past year.

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“When I blew the whistle (last year), the referee (Mugabe) gave her (Mujuru) a red card. So, hokoyo (beware) if I blow the whistle. Handizezi because ndiri mukadzi akashinga (I do not hesitate because I’m a strong woman).

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“In Marondera I asked (former Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray) Kaukonde to have a unity pact with me, but he turned it down. I warned him that I was going to finish him off because he was the chief culprit being used by Mujuru because of his money,” she added chillingly.

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Grace also denounced Mujuru for allegedly taking advantage of her being a liberation war veteran, adding that being such a war veteran did not give her the right to do as she pleased.

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She also appeared to rub it in on millions of economically-marginalised Zimbabweans who survive on street vending, saying second-hand clothing imports, which the government recently banned, were allegedly spreading diseases.

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“Those second-hand clothes you see have bacteria. So, tikachinjana hembe, we pass on diseases that we don’t know, nyuwani tashaya here? I don’t think we should buy second-hand clothes, sevanhu vasina basa (if people buy and exchange second hand clothes, they will pass diseases to each other, as if they can’t get new clothes and don’t have jobs).

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Ironically, many hard-pressed Zimbabweans are having to rely on second-hand clothes as they can’t afford new ones — wracked by rising poverty levels in the country and escalating joblessness. – Daily News

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