By Jessica Mundawarara|
Grace Mugabe has pleaded with her husband, president Robert Mugabe to immediately appoint her vice president, a move that could position her to succeed him if he dies, party sources said.
The sources revealed that Grace Mugabe had already rejected the post of minister for women’s affairs, which the president offered her soon after the Zanu PF congress in December.
Although she had earlier demanded the powerful position of defence minister, her advisers now want her to go for the vice presidency as it put her in direct line for succession if the ailing 91 year-old Mugabe dies or leaves office on health grounds.
Grace Mugabe’s new demands came after it emerged that vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa was now feathering his own nest and not preparing the way for her to succeed Mugabe as agreed when the crusade against Joice Mujuru started. Apparently, Mnangagwa has sidelined the so-called ‘gang of four’ advisers to Grace Mugabe, which includes the president’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao.
Party insiders said the new plan was to frame charges of a coup plot against Mnangagwa and eliminate him from the race. Mugabe fired the first volley this week when he said factionalism was still “very much alive” in Zanu PF despite the departure of ex-vice president Mujuru. Mugabe charged that Mnangagwa was leading a faction, which had only survived the recent Zanu PF party purge because it was loyal to him (Mugabe).
Mnangagwa’s detractors are now using every public platform available – including state and social media – to denigrate him. They heavily publicized his recent gaffe, where he mistakenly chanted “pamberi nemhandu/long live our enemies”. Grace Mugabe is said to have told Mugabe that Mnangagwa’s slip of the tongue was ample proof that he was working in cahoots with the Mujuru faction. Mnangagwa also infuriated the first lady when he stated that the plot to unseat Mujuru was executed by her, not him.
Mugabe this week hinted that he would appoint a woman to be vice president as the party constitution stated that one of the two VPs had to be female. He said the party had deliberately erred by appointing two men – Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as vice presidents.
“I dont think we have removed it (constitutional clause on women being vice president), but we have just ignored it. We have appointed vice presidents and we have not appointed a woman because we want to rein in the situation, but it doesnt mean in the future there will be no woman,” Mugabe said.
Ironically, it was Grace Mugabe herself who rooted for Mnangagwa and ensured that her husband made him vice president. She said at the time that the party constitutional clauses on women should be ignored, which was seen as a way of getting rid of Mujuru.
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