FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has been sucked into a fierce political turf war that threatens to end Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri’s career and her stranglehold of Zanu PF politics in Manicaland Province.
Grace’s name features prominently in petitions by rival ruling party youths fighting for control of the provincial Youth League structures.
A group opposed to Muchinguri early last week suspended youth league provincial leader Kelvin Manyengawana over a leaked audio recording in which he and the former Women’s League boss were reportedly recorded “plotting against other party leaders”.
Muchinguri’s allies later hit back and suspended Mbuso Chinguno (provincial vice chairman), Victor Saunyama (secretary for administration) and Rinashe Chinamasa (secretary for security) –ring leaders in Manyengawana’s purported suspension.
In the petition, a copy of which NewsDay has in possession, and copied to the national youth league as well as Grace, Manyengawana’s faction claimed the suspension of the three was for “gross misconduct and disloyalty to the party”.
The petition, signed by 26 members of the provincial youth league executive read: “They (Chinguno, Saunyama and Chinamasa) have caused divisions and undermined the authority of the First Lady and secretary for Women’s Affairs by lying that they have been instructed by the First Lady to remove part of our executive members.”
The trio also stands accused of writing to the Zanu PF national youth league executive proposing that Manyengavana be suspended “without consulting the provincial youth league and the Manicaland provincial coordinating committee”.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Zanu PF provincial youth secretary for information and publicity Gibson Mupeti said: “As youth, we want the party to be run smoothly. We have seen that these people (the suspended trio) had their own agendas, they have been using the First Lady’s name to satisfy their personal agendas, which is very wrong.”
Mupeti added the purported vote of no confidence against Manyengavana was in violation of the party’s constitution.
Grace was at the forefront of a brutal internal purge that claimed the scalps of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru in the run-up to Zanu PF’s last December congress with Muchinguri’s support but the two reportedly seem to have fallen out of favour as the internecine fights for control of the ruling party threaten to boil over.Newsday