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Grace Mugabe Dabbles in Volatile Zanu PF Politics, Promises Fireworks

FILE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace wave to supporters and guests during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera about 80km (50 miles) east of the capital Harare, Feb. 23, 2014. Mugabe turned 90 on February 21. RE

First Lady Grace Mugabe, touted by a faction in the ruling Zanu-PF as a rising star on Thursday launched her maiden rally in Mashonaland West province since her nomination as incoming Women’s League boss.

The rally came as divisions in the ruling party are widening ahead of crucial central committee elections scheduled for next month and a make or break elective congress in December.

The first lady took a swipe at factionalism in Zanu-PF and said it was now stressing her husband, 90 year old President Robert Mugabe. Mr. Mugabe has attempted on several occasions to de-escalate tensions in the party but with little success.

Two rival camps allegedly led by Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are engaged in a bruising fight to succeed Mr. Mugabe should he leave office.

But the two have consistently denied suggestions they lead warring factions. But the first lady though accused some unnamed people in the party of trying to oust President Mugabe.

Political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa of Mulungushi University in Zambia said Mrs. Mugabe’s entrance into politics is meant to safeguard her family’s interests should Mr. Mugabe step down.