By Thelma Chikwanha
HARARE – Factions battling to succeed President Robert Mugabe are unsettled by elaborate efforts to prop First Lady Grace amid fears of a deliberate attempt to groom her for higher office.
Senior Zanu PF officials told the Daily News that there is general panic in the former ruling party, with some suspecting that there are underhand manoeuvres to push Grace as a potential replacement for her 88-year-old husband.
In the past week, Grace has been portrayed in the state media as a loving and caring mother with a heart for the poor and children, contrary to her well known extravagance and bling. In one week alone, Grace occupied acres of space in the state media, where she was glorified.
Grace, has, however denied that she harbours presidential ambitions. In the stories, Grace is idolised as a role model with great leadership qualities.
The sprucing up of Grace’s image comes after the elevation of Joyce Banda as Malawi’s first female president; a development which some fighting in Grace’s corner believe can spur her, even ahead of Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Some Zanu PF moderates believe that faction leaders battling to replace Mugabe do not have the capacity to unite the party and argue someone like Grace would still carry the octogenarian’s name.
A Zanu PF insider yesterday said: “We feel that the move to spruce up Grace’s image is an attempt to propel her into politics. It could be part of a strategy to push her forward.”
But in one of the interviews, Grace, whom many believe influences most of the president’s decisions, said she had no political ambitions. She was quick to defend her husband saying he was capable of making his own decisions.
“Nonsense! That is nonsensical! He is a very intelligent man, please. What you are telling me is that you do not understand my husband. As intelligent as he is, you know sometimes when I want to say something to him, I am so scared because I know the answers I am going to get,” Grace was quoted as saying in the state media.
Other party stalwarts who are keen on seeing the 88-year old leave office, say the interviews are meant to garner support for Mugabe who has largely been blamed for the collapse of the economy.
They claim Mugabe wants to garner public confidence by having his wife speak on his behalf revealing the human side of a man who deals ruthlessly with political opponents.
“You get more confidence when your better half speaks for you. Just look at how Grace was quick to let the world know that like other normal couples they have their fights. She is also trying to profile Mugabe’s fitness in their efforts to garner voter confidence,” the source said.
Grace was quoted as saying: “They say President Mugabe is a very old man … but he is very sound and lucid. Very sound, I am telling you and very energetic too,” Grace was quoted as saying. Daily News
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