Informed sources told NewsDay at the weekend that Mujuru loyalists regrouped soon after Grace’s final rally on Friday, which was almost disrupted by Zanu PF youth activists sympathetic to her over the use of the slogan “Down with Gamatox” while others chanted “Down with weevils”.
Some Zanu PF youths denounced Mujuru and her alleged faction, labelling them “Gamatox”, in apparent reference to a toxic fumigant used long back to protect grain against weevils.
Mujuru sympathisers hit back, describing their rivals as weevils bent on destroying Zanu PF from within.
Grace publicly dressed down Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde accusing him of fanning factionalism and funding the Mujuru camp.
While some politburo members and Mujuru loyalists yesterday conceded Mujuru had no choice, but to remain calm in the face of the storm, they said they would use their majority in the politburo to turn
the heat on Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction.
“Does she (Mujuru) have an option? No! But one day is a long time in politics, and once all these issues are brought forward for discussion in the politburo, we will see how it will turnout,” the politburo member said.
“There is no one really who is clean. But they (Mnangagwa faction) have been smarter in roping in Grace although it is shortlived. Mujuru is a victim hence (President Robert) Mugabe must protect her. All these allegations have not been proved, so why the fuss? It’s a game we are also watching.”
The move came as political analysts strongly warned Mugabe against appointing his wife, Grace, as Vice-President, saying the move could trigger a serious political backlash and cause Zanu PF to crumble.
The warning also came following reports of underhand manoeuvres by party hawks to allow Grace or outgoing Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri to grab the Vice-Presidency from Mujuru through major surgery to the party constitution allowing Mugabe to appoint his second-in-command.
But, analysts urged Mugabe to resist the ploys because he could be reduced to a faction leader and also to protect Mujuru from the vicious attacks on her person by Grace.
Political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya said: “I don’t think Mugabe will be that daft to allow his wife to be Vice-President. What is, however, permissible is the elevation of Muchinguri to be VP.
“That will have traction because we have never had a VP from Manicaland in the history of Zimbabwe. That one would persuade people to back it. Manicaland has had a raw deal in terms of having people in the Presidium in Zanu PF and in that regard, they have had a raw deal.”
Ruhanya added: “They have to deal with Mujuru in a civilised manner because any uncivilised manner will not be good for the party.”
Another analyst, Takura Zhangazha, said the ongoing vicious fights within Zanu PF were a reflection of Mugabe’s failure to address the ruling party’s succession matrix.
“She (Grace) doesn’t have the experience and definitive party support, she is hanging on her husband and it’s not enough. She has limited experience and limited party support which she is trying to cajole for her support,” Zhangazha said.
“Her approach has been controversial and confrontational. The group pushing for Grace is the same group pushing for Muchinguri. They have been confrontational and they have put their cards on the table rather too early and it will be difficult to gain support and outwit the tradition of never firing anyone in the Presidium who only leaves power if they die.”
Political analyst Charles Mangongera also said the move to push Grace to assume the Vice-Presidency was not wise.
“I think Mugabe is becoming more inclined towards accepting that (the Mnangagwa-Grace faction), but I think that will quicken the rupture of the party,” Mangongera said.
“Their challenge is that in their attacks, while they have managed to isolate Mujuru the individual, it’s clear that there is a larger group, some of them senior members in the party, and the issue is how to eliminate politically or physically the person (Mujuru) and how to eliminate Mujuru the idea in the other group.”
He added: “The group has many people, some of them senior in the party. If they eliminate her politically or physically, it can’t kill the idea. They can always come back with a different name.”
On the wisdom pushing for Grace to take over from Mujuru, Mangongera said: “They may have been forced into some kind of retreat. If there is strategic thinking, the backlash they got, I think it’s clear that it is an unpopular move and they will go back to the table to push for Muchinguri, but she is extremely unpopular.”
Mangongera said Muchinguri’s decision to relinquish power to Grace might have been prompted by the realisation that she had no support in the structures and would lose to anyone the Mujuru camp would have forwarded.
“The problem is Mugabe has been on the balcony all along watching people dancing on the dance floor, but he has decided to be on the dance floor and someone will step on him and if he reacts, he will be slapped. If I were him, I would have stayed on the balcony,” he said, referring to Mugabe’s clear backing of the Mnangagwa and Grace faction.
Meanwhile, anti-riot police yesterday gathered at Africa Unity Square in anticipation of an anti-Mugabe demonstration by a group of civil society activists led by Itai Dzamara.
When NewsDay visited the park in the afternoon, some of the police were lying on the lawn, ready to disperse the demonstrators.
Dzamara last Friday petitioned Mugabe calling on him to step down for failing to stem the economic collapse.
Vendors selling wares at the recreational park said riot police were deployed at the park in the morning.
“We saw some of the riot police chasing illegal taxis, but we also heard that others had been deployed to quell a possible demonstration. They have been milling around in the park since morning,” said a vendor who refused to be identified.