By Elias Mambo
HARARE – Sparks flew at a contentious Zanu PF politburo meeting last week Wednesday as First Lady Grace Mugabe clashed with the former Zanu PF Women’s League boss, Oppah Muchinguri, resulting in a no-holds-barred-exchange that left Grace in tears, new details show.
Although Grace and Muchinguri appeared inseparable ahead of the Zanu PF congress in December last year as they teamed up to derail former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s presidential ambitions which culminated in her losing her position in the party and government before being expelled from the party, the two have not been seeing eye-to-eye since the congress.
Reports have suggested Muchinguri is not happy with the secretary for transport position she was appointed to at congress, while Grace has been upset with allegations that the former Women’s League boss has been claiming credit for her political rise.
“Muchinguri also believes Grace has been failing to politically recognise her in the ruling party’s pecking order,” a source said.
Politburo sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the verbal exchange was instigated by Grace, who accused Muchinguri of claiming she paved way for her ascendency in Zanu PF.
“The First Lady wanted to embarrass Muchinguri, but she proved to be a seasoned politician who did not take the criticism lightly, but fought her way out,” said a senior politburo member.
The source said the First Lady said: “Ndiwe unofamba uchiti you paved way for me. (You go about telling people that you paved way for me).”
This did not go down well with Muchinguri who immediately shot back saying: “Kuti kunyepa here kuti I paved way for you. (Is it a lie that I paved way for you)?”
Muchinguri then went on the offensive telling Grace “she has been a divisive figure in the party”. She pointed out that wherever she has addressed rallies, she has left the party divided on factional lines. Sources said a tearful Grace was stunned by Muchinguri’s onslaught and threatened to resign or stop the work she was doing.
War veterans minister Chris Mutsvangwa joined in although his attack was directed at political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and by extension Grace for disrespecting war veterans.
“Mutsvangwa took it further when he said the war veterans wanted an apology from the Zanu PF national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere who at one time called them ‘drunkards and taxi drivers’.”
Politburo insiders said the First Lady even became more emotional as she felt the attack was also directed at her because she had blasted war veterans at a rally in Rushinga.
At the Rushinga rally, Grace said participation in the war of liberation was not a passport to misbehave.
“People will start to say yes you went to war, but were you forced to participate because of your behaviour,” she said in Rushinga in October.
“Some will say because I went to war, then I have a right to do whatever I want. Are you the only one who went to war? There are others who fought in that liberation war and are still toeing the party line.” Zimbabwe Independent