The Zimbabwean First Lady dropped a bombshell on Wednesday’s “Million Man March” when she said President Mugabe would rule from his grave.
“….you are irreplaceable President. You will rule from your grave at the Heroes Acre because you are a uniting force for us,” First Lady Grace Mugabe said to wild cheers. This is not the first time she has shocked the world as she is known to have told supporters at a political rally in November, 2015 that she would get a wheelchair for her husband to use.
“We are going to create a special wheelchair for President Mugabe until he rules to 100 years, because that is what we want. That is the people’s choice. We want a leader that respects us,” she said at the rally. It would now seem simply getting to a hundred and ruling from a wheelchair is not enough as she is now proposing that the man lead from his grave.
The President of Zimbabwe himself had no kind words for people calling for his retirement. He use these exact terms, “So tell them that Mugabe said no, you go hand, hang yourselves.”
The Million Man March was spearheaded by the ruling party Youth League. Its main purpose was to endorse and reaffirm support President Mugabe who has been premier of both party and the country at large since independence in 1980. It was widely criticised for generally ignoring the socio-economic turmoil Zimbabwe is facing lately. One thing in particular has rattled the citizens of the Southern African country- the so called “bond-notes” which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe hopes will ease the current cash crunch in the country. With an economy on an undisturbed free-fall, it seems the ruling party has been more concerned with power and who should have it. The Million Man March was therefore interpreted to be one big press release to address the factional wars within the ruling party. It seems now the world knows who will lead after President Mugabe- dead President Mugabe.
The history of infighting in the Zimbabwean ruling party reached a turning point with the expulsion of the party’s then Vice President, Joyce Mujuru who led a faction called “Gamatox” within Zanu PF. Newsday, a Zimbabwean publication explained the name’s origins saying, “Gamatox is a potent pesticide and Zanu PF began using the derogatory word last year to refer to Mujuru loyalists during one of the ruling party’s most vicious purge.”
Joyce Mujuru has since formed her own party, Zimbabwe People First. The “Gamatox purges” did not however mark an end to the factional fights as now it seems the “Generation 40” camp made up of younger politicians within the party is battling “Team Lacoste”.
“Team Lacoste is the moniker describing a faction of Zanu PF reportedly led by Mnangagwa who was the greatest beneficiary of Mujuru’s demise,” says The Zimbabwean newspaper in an attempt to define “Team Lacoste”. Mnangagwa is the current Vice President of Zimbabwe, appointed after the expulsion of Mujuru. The Generation 40 group is said to be led by the First Lady herself and includes Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko.
It now seems clear why Zanu PF would want to clear up its position on the preferred successor. It would seem that topic is simply taboo and a seed of dissension. Considering that no one has been seen to be fit to rule, the First Lady’s statement is therefore just ridiculous at face value but in reality, it presents the conundrum that Zanu will have to deal with.
In an interview with Voice of America, Caroline Garwe of Zaka district in Zimbabwe concisely put it this way, “Personally, I don’t think there is someone who can take over from Mugabe considering the infighting going on to replace him even before he is gone.”
Vice President Mnangagwa not only has to do with internal opposition but it seems he is not popular among the electorate. Recently, he was embarrassed after addressing an empty stadium for May Day celebrations. G40 has not revealed its leader but has been hiding behind supporting the President as the “one centre of power”. No one should believe that is their whole motive, they should be backing someone to take over behind the curtains and time will tell who.
Whoever aspires to ascend to the top post in Zanu PF is not Mugabe, a man who has held the centre for thirty-six years and counting. No one can be him. In the face of this, one can see that when the First lady of Zimbabwe says he should rule from his grave, she is not being delusional. She knows just how tumultuous the days after the veteran leader’s exit will be. Unfortunately this is all politics and power; it will not fix the dying economy. The country does not need a dead President, instead, an active visionary prepared to fix Zimbabwe’s relationship with the world is the solution.
Image credit: Newsweek