Grace Mugabe, State House typist turned First Lady
Grace Mugabe has added fuel to speculation that she wants to become the next president of Zimbabwe in remarks that suggest the ruling party could be heading for a damaging split.
In widely-reported comments at a rally outside Harare on Thursday, the wife of the current president, Robert, said: “They say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?”
The remarks formed part of a vitriolic tirade against current Zimbabwean vice president Joice Mujuru. Mugabe described Mujuru as “ungrateful, power-hungry, daft, corrupt, foolish, divisive and a disgrace”, and accused her of collaborating with opposition forces and white people to undermine the country’s post-independence gains.
Left school, after two years of secondary education, to join liberation struggle, 1973; reported to have downed a helicopter in 1974 earning the nom de guerre ofTeurai Ropa (Spill Blood); member of the General Staff of the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army (ZANLA), 1974; Commander, Chimoio Camp, Mozambique, 1976; married Solomon Mujuru, then known as Rex Nhongo, Deputy Commander of ZANLA, 1977; Member of the Central Committee of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and Secretary for Women’s Affairs, 1977; Member of Parliament, Mashonaland Central, 1980; Minister of Youth, Sport and Recreation; 1980-85; Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office, 1985-88; Minister of Community Development, Cooperatives and Women’s Affairs, 1988-1992; Governor of Mashonaland Central, 1992-96; Minister of Information, Posts and Telecommunications, 1996-97; Minister of Rural Resources and Water Development, 1997-2004; Vice President of ZANU-PF and Zimbabwe, 2004 to date.
Commentary: One of the youngest government ministers at Independence, Joice rose to become the most powerful woman in Zimbabwe in 2004 when she was elected party Vice-President. This was a move that was widely believed to have been engineered by her husband Solomon in order to block Emmerson Mnangagwa, for a long time considered to be Mugabe’s successor. Mugabe even hinted that she could rise higher which was interpreted to mean she could succeed him.
Initially, she completely overshadowed her co Vice-President, Joseph Msika, but her star began to wane when her husband openly confronted Mugabe, telling him to step down at the Goromonzi party annual conference in 2006. Though she was reappointed Vice-President in 2008, this is widely believed to be window dressing. Joice has lost favour with Mugabe following reports that her daughter, Nyasha del Campo, tried to sell 3.7 tonnes of gold and diamonds worth more than $15 million to a European company, Firstar. Mujuru was reported to be behind the deal and to have threatened the head of Firstar Europe, Bernd Hagemann, when he scrapped the deal.
Mujuru remains very popular in her constituency of Bindura. However, she is very unpopular in Matebeleland because of the way she snubbed former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo over the awarding of a mobile phone licence when she was Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. She ignored Nkomo’s instructions to award the tender to Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet, now the largest mobile phone operator in the country, and instead awarded it to Telecel, a company owned by a Congolese and a local consortium that included her close associate, James Makamba, a front for her husband, and President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Leo Mugabe.
Joice Mujuru’s husband, the powerful General Solomon Mujuru died in a fire at their farmhouse in Beatrice, about 80 kilometres south of Harare, on 15 August 2011.
Who would you vote for next Zimbabwe Presidency: Grace Mugabe or Joyce Mujuru?