HARARE – Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader Joice Mujuru is on the backfoot after powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe resumed her high-octane “meet the people” rallies on Friday, which the opposition contends will act as a catalyst for the implosion of the ruling Zanu PF regime.
Grace resumed her countrywide “meet the people” rallies in Buhera, as the ruling party grapples with the prospects of facing an opposition coalition in the 2018 poll and at a time its ugly battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe rages on.
ZPF has imploded after being mercilessly vanquished in its first ever election tussle against Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF in Bikita West, highlighting the mammoth task Mujuru faces in efforts to challenge her associate-cum-foe.
And Mujuru, who served as Mugabe’s deputy for a decade, was the subject of Grace’s barbs in Buhera on Friday, derisively calling her a “queen bee” that has been deserted by her “drones” (male bees). Grace alluded to “queen bee” after Mujuru earlier last week said her erstwhile male colleagues in ZPF wanted to “sleep” with her, that is why they appointed her interim president.
She also in thinly-veiled remarks attacked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his faction popularly known as Team Lacoste, averring that if they want Mugabe to go, they should also pack their bags.
“Some are saying …Mugabe is now old and should retire. No! At least myself, I can say that because I did not start with him in 1980,” she said.
“I don’t want to be told that by a person who started with the president in 1980. You started together in 1980 and now you want to tell someone that you are old. No! That is unfair.
“If you want …Mugabe to retire, you go together with him and we take over. We were not there in 1980.”
Zanu PF’s astonishing brawls worsened when Mnangagwa became embroiled in what is now cheekily referred to in some Zanu PF circles as “Cupgate” — after images of the vice president holding a coffee mug inscribed with the words “I am the boss” emerged.
This saw the Midlands godfather’s Zanu PF enemies going to town and interpreting, rightly or wrongly, the pictures as confirmation of the VP’s mooted presidential aspirations and his Team Lacoste faction’s alleged plot to take power irregularly.
Another senior party official linked to Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) — who are rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe — said bluntly that “Team Lacoste is in trouble” and that she would “target and right size Ngwena (Mnangagwa)” at the forthcoming rallies.
Analysts and the opposition told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that they feared a complete implosion of the former liberation movement.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said they were not really bothered by Grace’s rallies saying they were busy with their own party programmes that have seen Morgan Tsvangirai crisscrossing the country, consulting with opinion leaders.
“Of course, it will be God’s gift to the toiling and downtrodden masses of Zimbabwe if Grace Mugabe’s rallies act as a catalyst in the inevitable implosion of the Zanu PF regime,” Gutu said.
“We would be lying if we say that we are not very pleased to see Zanu PF crash and burn.
“As the MDC, we are extremely concerned about the financial drain to the national treasury that her rallies will cause.”
Cabinet ministers flocked to her rally on Friday using government vehicles and fuel.
“We are also concerned that no serious government business will take place because all top government bureaucrats will be following Grace to her rallies as they seek to pay homage to her,” Gutu said.
“In Zanu PF circles, Grace is like a goddess. If you cross her path, consider yourself a dead man walking.”
Former advisor to ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Alex Magaisa, said it will be interesting to see how the forthcoming round of rallies go but going by previous rounds, it is likely to be “explosive”.
“Before the last round stopped, she was relentlessly attacking Mnangagwa and his faction and it seemed as if Mnangagwa was losing ground.
“Afterwards, Mnangagwa gained ground and has been comfortable. This new round could be designed to peg back the Mnangagwa team,” Magaisa said.
When Grace addressed her key rally on Friday, the influential first lady ominously accused unnamed officials of among a litany of deadly charges — deception, faking love for Mugabe, and in fact working feverishly to topple the long-ruling nonagenarian from power.
“Varikutonga baba. Vanhu vakakupa vote wotoita zvekutamba. (Our father is ruling. You were voted into people by people and you play with that mandate). Factionalism pasi nayo (down with it), who ever is engaging in factionalism, stop it!” she admonished.