HARARE – The Zanu PF faction rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa could soon be on the backfoot after it emerged that powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe has been asked to resume her high-octane “meet the people” rallies.
Minister of State in Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s office Tabetha Kanengoni Malinga asked Grace to resume her countrywide rallies, as the ruling party’s ugly battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe gets into top gear.
“Tiri kukumbirawo interface rally yewomen’s league kuti imimi amai nababa muuye musanganewo nesu sezviri kuita ma youths (we are requesting that you conduct the women’s league interface rallies, which you must hold together with president Mugabe, just like what is happening with the youths),” Kanengoni Malinga said at a women’s league national assembly meeting on Thursday.
Grace first rolled out the political gatherings, dubbed meet the people rallies, soon after she took over as the women’s league boss.
The controversial whirlwind political gatherings were characterised by acerbic attacks on party officials aligned to Mnangagwa.
The rallies, if they materialise, will come after a surprisingly long hiatus.
Her no-show on the political ground had sent the rumour mill into overdrive with all kinds of theories, including claims by some in Zanu PF that Mugabe had moved to stop the rallies because they were serving no useful purpose but fuelling internal party strife.
Some party officials aligned to Mnangagwa claimed Mugabe had himself put the brakes on Grace’s rallies after becoming exasperated by the heightened in-fighting her allies were causing.
They claimed Mugabe met with her outside the country in the aftermath of her rally in Rushinga and ordered her to cancel all rallies she had lined up.
The latest wave of rallies, if they materialise, will take place at a time Mugabe has proposed the idea of appointing a third vice president, a position many believe could be reserved for Grace, with a possibility of even taking over from her husband.
But Grace has previously vehemently denied having presidential ambitions, insisting that she was satisfied with her position as women’s league boss.
Claims by officials aligned to Mnangagwa — who is accused of seeking to stampede Mugabe from power by Zanu PF Young Turks opposed to his presidential ambitions, the Generation 40 (G40) — suggested that the nonagenarian had put the brakes on Grace’s rallies after becoming infuriated by the intensified in-fighting her rallies were allegedly causing.
Mugabe, during the women’s league meeting, attacked securocrats, warning them against meddling in party politics. The army has been suspected of supporting Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions.
These new political dynamics, coming as Grace has asked her husband to anoint a successor, are set to make the rallies explosive.