President Robert Mugabe’s controversial wife, Grace, is gunning to succeed her nonagenarian husband as president, former Hurungwe West Member of Parliament, Temba Mliswa has said. Addressing journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club at the weekend, Mliswa also said that everything that the increasingly-powerful First Lady was doing, had the blessing of her husband and it is no longer a secret. “It’s not a secret anymore, she (Grace) was given the go ahead by the president to campaign when he came back from the United Nations recently. “He was even very clear when he asked Zanu PF bigwigs why they were blocking her. So when you see the First Lady, you have seen the president. She hires and fires ministers. She is the one who is leading the campaign,” he said. Grace recently visited four provinces where she held rallies that have been viewed as part of her strategy for her presidential ambitions. Backed by the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, she is also said to be using the same rallies to thwart Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ambitions for higher office. Mliswa said Mugabe’s failure to reign in his wife, as she continued to play a divisive role in the warring post-congress Zanu PF, was clear testimony that she now wielded executive powers. “She is openly using government infrastructure and equipment to campaign. She takes tractors that are supposed to be paid for and distributing them freely to party supporters. The question is, she is doing all this as who? She has no executive powers and she is not a minister. She is just a secretary for the Women’s League,” he said. Mliswa who was part of dozens of Zanu PF senior officials who were purged and expelled from the ruling party for being aligned to former Vice President Joice Mujuru, said Grace’s latest rallies were nothing more than a political strategy for her ascendency to “the top”. “It’s pretty clear that she has started a campaign for her to be the next president. And this is exactly the way she started when she dealt with Joice Mujuru and company. The First Lady has entered the political arena which is like a football field. If you decide to play soccer, you will be marked, so Amai ngavamakwe nokuti vapinda mu-game ka nekuti mukavarega vanogowesa (She has declared her interest for power, and opponents will obviously now seek to stop her),” Mliswa said.
He added that on Mujuru, “Grace scored because people decided to keep quiet. She is now into the political arena and let’s be very clear, she is a politician now”.
While addressing a rally at Mutambara Mission in Chimanimani two weeks ago, the First Lady declared that she was the referee who could decide who stayed deceased turfed out of the ruling party. But Mliswa had a word of advice to her: “What I want to say to Grace is, you are new in politics and you are not a referee. The referee is the electorate. The electorate decides who to take in or take out”. Mliswa claimed that all the top Zanu PF officials who were following Grace wherever she went were only doing so to save their positions in the party and in government, as well as to curry favours with her. He also said Grace’s misguided statements had allegedly scared away investors.