Harare – Leader of Zanu-PF women’s wing and First Lady Grace Mugabe, could be elevated to the cabinet of her husband, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in order to give her some political strength.
Institute for Security Studies consultant Derek Matyszak told a seminar in Pretoria on Tuesday that Grace was concerned about her future after her husband is no longer president.
“She once expressed the fear that when Mugabe dies she might be dragged along the tarmac behind a truck, so there are these fears and dynamics behind the scenes,” he said.
In the past few months, there have been rumours that a member of Zanu-PF’s so-called G40 faction, which has fallen out of favour with Mugabe, could be removed from Parliament to make place for her to step in via a by-election.
Ministers can only be appointed from amongst MPs.
The idea would be “to improve her political capital so that she has some kind of political strength”, Matyszak said.
This could have been part of a speculated deal struck between the Mugabes and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in October last year to protect Grace.
Her future, however, remained problematic. “Even if a deal with Mnangagwa was struck, what guarantee does she have that he will adhere to such an arrangement?,” Matyszak asked.
He said most people thought she derived her political capital entirely from her marriage to the president, but her getting a doctorate three years ago and becoming women’s league president have given her political weight in her own right.
Grace’s political ambitions emerged around Zanu-PF’s 2014 conference, when some of the temporary roads around the conference venue were named after her.
She also helped with the purging of then vice president Joice Mujuru from the party by holding various rallies in which she attacked Mujuru, who was later expelled from the party.
Matyszak said it was difficult to tell who was actually running the government in Zimbabwe, and to what extent Mugabe still exercised power.
“Mugabe appears so frail that it doesn’t’ look like he can juggle between intriate manoevers needed to keep things in keel,” Matyszak said.
Many of the decisions seem to be made by the Office of the President and Cabinet, which is run by a relation of Mnangagwa, he said.
“They claim to be passing on Mugabe’s instructions, but actually they are passing on their own instructions.”