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First Lady Grace Mugabe Keen to Succeed President Mugabe

FILE: Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe addresses her maiden political rally in Chinhoyi after she was nominated to head the Zanu PF ruling party women's league two months ago, Oct. 2, 2014.

First Lady Grace Mugabe, who recently was on a meet the people tour as she prepares to assume the leadership of Zanu PF’s Women’s league, on Thursday told former freedom fighters that she is capable of succeeding her 90-year old husband who has been in power for the last 34 years.

The first lady told war veterans that she summoned to her Mazowe orphanage that she is keen to take over the leadership of the country from her husband, President Robert Mugabe, who turns 91 next year, if called upon by her conscience to do so.

She, however, did not say whether she would or intends to take over the leadership of the party at Zanu PF’s elective congress slated for December.

In her nationwide rallies that she has been holding since her endorsement by the Women’s League to take over the leadership of the ruling party’s wing from Oppah Muchinguri, the first lady issued verbal attacks widely believed to be targeted at Vice President Joice Mujuru.

In Thursday’s address she went further, mentioning the vice president by name and called for her resignation.

She accused Mrs. Mujuru and those backing her of planning to remove Mr. Mugabe from office through what she described as a “coup”.

Some critics claim that the first lady, who has vowed to end factionalism in Zanu PF, is herself in the Zanu PF faction led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

While dedicating most of her address to attacking the deputy president, Grace Mugabe heaped praises on Mr. Mnangagwa, believed to also habour presidential ambitions.

The first lady also took a swipe at the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Constantine Chiwenga, challenging the army chief to kill her. She did not elaborate on this call.

Service chiefs have in the past declared that they would not salute anyone without liberation war credentials if they took over the leadership of the country.

Political analyst and director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, Pedzisai Ruhanya, told VOA Studio 7 that Mrs. Mugabe does not have presidential ambitions, adding that what she said Thursday was an attempt of clearing the way for Mnangagwa to take over from her husband.

At the December congress, the first lady is expected to be elected to the powerful post of secretary of Zanu PF’s Women’s League. This will automatically propel her into the ruling party’s supreme decision-making body between congresses, the Politburo.