By Mabasa Sasa
HARARE – First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe says she harbours no Presidential ambitions, stating that her plate is full with her charity work, private business and role as Zanu-PF Women’s League boss.
Amai Mugabe, who turned 50-years-old on Thursday, spoke exclusively to The Sunday Mail on Friday about events in Zanu-PF over the past year that have been credited to her entry into mainstream politics.
In the candid talk, she also said former Vice-President Dr Joice Mujuru was the architect of her own demise by being over ambitious, impatient and surrounding herself with poor advisors.
Grace said she was greatly disappointed by Dr Mujuru’s descent into cloak-and-dagger politics, and that President Mugabe had tried to be a father to her but had instead been stabbed in the back.
For her pains, Dr Mujuru and dozens of Government and party officials lost their jobs from December 2014 to early this year.
The First Lady, who last year earned a controversial PhD from the University of Zimbabwe, also rose to become Zanu-PF Secretary for Women’s Affairs in 2014 on a groundswell of support following her frank denouncement of Dr Mujuru’s plot to unseat President Mugabe.
Her increased public profile has fed speculation in the local private and foreign media that President Mugabe was grooming her to take over the State Presidency.
And last Friday she revealed that people eyeing the Presidency were themselves behind the reports as part of an attempt to eliminate her imagined candidature.
“I have never – in any way, in any place, at any time – said I would want to be the President of this country.
“Yes, questions have been asked before and I have answered that ‘I am also a Zimbabwean and who has a right more than Grace Mugabe?’
“But I have never ever said I would want to be the President. Of course, there are people who may be talking about it out there, but I have never sent anyone to talk about it,” she said.
The First Lady continued; “There are people who come to me … others, still, have sent people to ask if I am interested.
“I have said no. I sometimes tell them: ‘You have been sent to ask me the question whether I want to become or run for the Presidency in future, or when I intend to do that’.
“And I have told them in no uncertain terms that, ‘In future, don’t come and ask me that question. Tell whoever has sent you that they must keep it to themselves’. I don’t have the ambition to run for the Presidency.”
She emphasised her interest in giving her all in the Office of First Lady, a mother, Party Women’s League boss and a businessperson.
“We hear a lot of things being said about us, allegations being made, that she has Presidential ambitions.
“When these people who actually think they are the ones to take over after Mugabe imagine that Mugabe’s wife has those ambitions, they actually start mudslinging.
“I know some detractors are writing about it; that Mugabe is grooming his wife to become the President after he retires, and it will never stop because there are people who think they are the ones to take over out there.
“And they think that if Mugabe is really grooming his wife, we must ensure we pull her down and this is what has been happening…
On related claims that she wanted a Cabinet post, the First Lady responded: “I have said no because I have so much already on my plate. I don’t want to take up that position. I personally feel I have a lot of work to do as First Lady.
“I would rather that position be given to someone else. This is me. If I had really wanted, if I had been so ambitious as they say, I would have said yes, I want to be (a minister).
“There was nothing to stop me anyway, but I said no because I do not want to.”
Turning to her relationship with Dr Mujuru, Amai Mugabe said when she first heard unsavoury allegations relating to the then VP, she tried to resolve the matter privately.
However, Dr Mujuru rejected counsel, and her putschist cabal – the First Lady said – started paying youths with money and alcohol to heckle her at public gatherings.
“I later said enough was enough. You cannot continue to do this to me. I have been very quiet for a very long time.
“Things have been said, written and gossiped about me. I said enough was enough; if you actually want now to translate it into public fight, let’s go for it.
“I also have a mouth to talk, I have a brain to think. So, I said this should stop forthwith. That’s why people talk about ‘Stop it!’…
“(Dr Mujuru) had a faction which was working against the President … She was now making her own clique with people who were following her and to them, it was a foregone conclusion that she was going to be the President of this country and where they got that from, we didn’t understand.
“This should have come from the party and she could have waited. I loved her so much, I tell you. She disappointed me…
“She knew that I liked her, but she was very elusive in her ways. She didn’t even want to communicate with me.
“I think it had more to do with the people who advised her. She chose the wrong people to advise her. Unfortunately, she caused all this that happened.
“She could have easily listened to advice. I even sent people to talk to her.”
Amai Mugabe said some of Dr Mujuru’s close allies spilt the beans on their nefarious plot themselves.
“However, I was very genuine about the things I did for her. Other women and I campaigned for her to be in that position; she must not forget. The President supported her fully to be in that position, but she started being too ambitious.
“She could have waited for her time. I’m telling you; she had an opportunity, a very good opportunity if she had kept her cool and listened to the advice of others. She would be somewhere today.
“But she decided to do things the wrong way and she has herself to blame – unfortunately…
“I would not want to speak on behalf of the President, but, obviously, as somebody who is certainly an advocate of women advancement, I’m sure he felt really let down.
“He certainly also liked the Vice-President because she was like a daughter to him; somebody he brought up. He felt let down as a father as well as a President.” The Sunday Mail