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Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwe’s long serving President Robert Mugabe, is venturing into politics as the succession battle rages on.
People have these days been watching Grace Mugabe, the wife of the 'venerable' President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, as she goes around the country with her "Meet the People" campaign. Alone the name Mugabe is enough an advertisement. On Thursday (23.10.2014) she announced her plans to run for the next presidential elections due in 2018. "People say I want to be President. Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?" Mugabe said at a rally near the capital Harare. This is how the more than 40 years younger wife of the 90-year-old Robert Mugabe wants to grab the country's highest office.
Penchant for luxury and defamation
But until now Grace Mugabe has barely had interest in politics. In Zimbabwe, the first lady has been known as Gucci Grace or grabbing Grace – this is because of her extravagant shopping trips and luxurious dressing styles. Only recently, the South African born former typist, entered into politics. She started off her political career as she presented her nomination for the presidency of the ruling Zanu-PF Women's League, a position that can win her a leadership position in the Politburo of the ruling Zanu-PF.
The course of her choice, however, was extremely flimsy. According to the party's statutes, one requires 15 years of membership and outstanding achievements in the liberation struggle. But "Grace is not a politician," says the Zimbabwean editor of the online newspaper, The Zimbabwean, Wilf Mbanga. "Grace Mugabe has got no experiences in the Zanu-PF affairs or politics in general."
Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Joice Mujuru remain the most promising candidates in the Robert Mugabe's succession battle. Mujuru, a widow of a senior commander in Zimbabwe's liberation movement, enjoys high reputation among many veterans. Her husband was killed in yet unclear circumstances.
Grace Mugabe uses her speeches in rallies, to publicly threaten and defame her competitor Mujuru. "Mrs. Mujuru must resign" Mugabe said at a party rally. "She has done nothing for the country. She has spent her time eying the President's post. I don't see her as fit to rule this country. She wants to use money to topple Mugabe."
Grace Mugabe's public performance has made her unpopular. "Currently Grace Mugabe is probably the most hated person in Zimbabwe," said a recognized expert in the country who preferred to remain anonymous. Criticizing the state or ruling party members could make people have reprisals or imprisonment.
Analysts say Grace has no chance to win the succession battle
"Her weekly tirades against virtually everything and everyone have generated a sense of fear in Zimbabwe. Even the ruling party members of Zanu-PF are misled. They harm the country, they hurt us! With concern many Zimbabweans are observing the rapid rise of the first lady and bloody clashes between Zanu-PF feuding factions, are feared," the analyst continued. Even journalists have recently felt Mugabe's wrath. She recently accused private media correspondents of supporting the opposition and that they are receiving bribes to make negative propaganda about her.
Dr. Grace Mugabe
Grace Mugabe's latest scandal is about an honorary PhD she was awarded by the University of Zimbabwe. Her enrollment was only just months back and also her dissertation entitled "change in social structures and the function of the family" is not in the public domain. One spicy detail is that the doctorate was handed over to her by the Chancellor of the University who is his husband Robert Mugabe.
All these political intrigues are done behind the backs of Zimbabweans, analysts say. "Zimbabwe is politically at a standstill. The leaders are now busy with the intrigue and do not have time to take care of official business." Some people are afraid that more and more Zimbabweans would leave the country and seek their future abroad.