Mazowe, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe on Thursday announced her candidacy to succeed her husband, 90-year-old president Robert Mugabe, when he leaves office.
“People say I want to be president, why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?” the 49-year-old said when addressing veterans of the country’s liberation struggle in Mazowe at about 40 kilometres north of Harare.
Mugabe called on Vice President Joice Mujuru – regarded as one of the top contenders to succeed the president – to resign.
“There are plenty of people who can run this country, not Mujuru,” she said, adding that her husband’s deputy would take Zimbabwe “back to where we were before independence.”
Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, has travelled several times for medical care abroad, sparking speculation that he could step down before his term ends in 2018.
Mugabe has meanwhile been appointed to head the women’s league of the ruling party Zanu-PF.
The first lady’s political ambitions have faced resistance from Mujuru and others who participated in the liberation struggle against the white minority government of the then Rhodesia – today Zimbabwe – alongside Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe has also come under fire for a doctorate she obtained from the University of Zimbabwe in September – allegedly just months after she enrolled there.
She caused a storm in Zanu PF over the past two weeks when, during her “Meet the People Tours” across the country, made veiled attacks on the Mujuru camp accusing it of fanning factionalism. She also described the Vice-President as corrupt, jealous, divisive and no longer suitable to remain in the Presidium.
However, it was in Mazowe that she directly named the Vice President calling her by name and telling the crowd that, “there are plenty of people who can run this country, not Mujuru…we cannot go back to where we were before independence.”
She added: “Mai Mujuru must resign!”
Grace also rewrote history concurring with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chris Mutsvangwa’s assertion that the popular story of Mujuru shooting down a helicopter during the liberation struggle was a lie.
“All war veterans know what they did, not those who claim that they have downed a chopper. Let people say it than praise yourself only to be disapproved by others.” Grace said.