Harare-Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of parliament, yesterday described President Robert Mugabe’s wife as a joker for claiming she was in charge of the presidency.
Grace Mugabe made the remark last Friday while addressing a Zanu (PF) political rally in rural Chiweshe in Mashonaland West, claiming that she made senior government appointments.
She called the rally which was attended by Zanu (PF) bigwigs dubbed Generation 40 which is fighting fierce battles with a faction led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the race to succeed Mugabe who turns 92 on Sunday. During question time in parliament, Mudenda stepped in to rule on a query by Warren Park MP, Elias Mudzuri ,who sought to know on what basis Grace stated that she was running government affairs.
The speaker, who is a senior Zanu (PF) member, dismissed the claim as a jest and maintained that Mugabe was still the president. “We are not here to follow some political jests. It is common cause that we still have one president in Zimbabwe. What happens at rallies whether for this party—Zanu (PF)—or that party has nothing to do with parliament,” said Mudenda.
His critics maintain Mugabe is now too old to continue ruling amid repeated reports of acute ill-health, speech mix-ups, falls and losses of memory. During the 2014 Zanu (PF) congress, the president admitted that his wife had overbearing influence on him and, in apparent anger, denounced the party he has led for close to 40 years.
Grace, who has revealed that Mugabe’s two deputies took notes from him, recently declared that she would make a special wheel chair for her husband so that he would continue ruling. She has publicly fallen out of favour with Mnangagwa, which the G40 outfit that she is said to lead wants out of the way ahead of Mugabe’s anticipated exit.
On the other hand, the other vice president, Phelekezela Mphoko, has swung to her side, and last Friday insinuated that a Karanga, Mnangagwa’s ethnic tribe, must not be seen as the next in line to rule Zimbabwe after Mugabe, who is Zezuru.