Some Zanu PF members in Mashonaland Central province are calling on Vice President Joice Mujuru to challenge President Robert Mugabe at the ruling party’s elective congress following internal party fissures that are being fuelled by First Lady Grace Mugabe, who is calling for Mrs. Mujuru’s ouster.
Indications from Mt. Darwin, the home area of Mrs. Mujuru, show that this seems highly unlikely as the majority of the ruling party’s organs have already taken turns to endorse Mr. Mugabe’s candidacy.
Mrs. Mugabe held several rallies countrywide demeaning the vice president in speeches that received condemnation from the opposition and within the ruling party.
In her last public appearance in Mazowe last week, Mrs. Mugabe told war veterans that it was now time Vice President Mujuru to resign from her post, accusing her of corruption, incompetency and selling out to the country’s so-called detractors.
“Mrs. Mujuru should just resign, she must resign, why are you are not happy, you think it’s OK when I say you should be vice president but when I say it’s time up you get angry. Chinotimba are you not happy?”
Such statements are said to be widening the rift in the ruling party as the succession debate rages on.
Tracy Hondongwe, a Zanu PF supporter in Dotito district in Mashonaland Central, the home province of Vice President Mujuru, said Mrs. Mugabe’s remarks were disrespectful.
“She is too young compared to Mrs. Mujuru and she has never participated in the war. There is nothing that she can teach us, all she knows are insults and the demeaning other people. If the worse comes to the worst, let’s go to congress so that we can freely choose our preferred leader among the three of them.”
Another Zanu PF member, Keresenzia Mutashu, who lives near Bradley, told Studio 7 that it is not right for Mrs. Mugabe to denigrate elected leaders such as Mrs. Mujuru.
She said there is no way the first lady could be allowed to proceed with such utterances without the approval of President Mugabe himself.
As a result, Mutashu said Mrs. Mujuru should now take the bull by its horns and challenge Mr. Mugabe for the Zanu PF presidency at the party’s elective congress set for December.
She also said Mrs. Mugabe is too young to be considered her husband’s potential successor.
“I want Mrs. Mujuru to take over because she has a well-documented liberation history. What Grace Mugabe is doing is not right.”
Mutashu added that the first lady’s antics were tantamount to betraying those who fought in the country’s war of liberation such as the General Solomon Mujuru, the late husband of the vice president.
Along the Harare-Dotito highway, many posters with Vice President Mujuru’s face were stuck on trees and motor vehicles last weekend while some Zanu PF youths were singing revolutionary songs in support of her at celebrations held in Dotito to mark her attainment of a Doctor of Philosophy Degree.
Some of the songs were denouncing Mrs. Mugabe, who is set to take over from Oppah Muchinguri as the Women’s League boss, at the December congress.
Zanu PF secretary for administration in Chiutsa district, Silas Sande, said Mrs. Mugabe went overboard in attacking the vice president.
Sande said Mrs. Mujuru’s silence and diplomatic approach to issues mean that the vice president has matured enough to take over from President Mugabe.
“It is necessary that Mrs. Mujuru takes over from President Mugabe. In fact, she has to be elevated from her current position.”
Sande said the vice president has worked very hard in the upliftment of many livelihoods in Mashonaland Central province, adding that the first lady’s public spats on her will divert Mrs. Mujuru from focusing on development issues countrywide that require her attention.
“What is happening is hurting us. Mrs. Mujuru contributed heavily towards the development of Mt. Darwin and surrounding areas. It is disheartening to see newspaper reports in which she is being denigrated and called names,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Ruza, the ruling party’s chairperson for Chiutsa district, says he is happy with the current set up of Mr. Mugabe’s administration.
Ruza said, “Yes as the chairman, I am saying that we are supporting President Mugabe and his team, they should be allowed to continue working as they are.”
Ruza, however, added that Mrs. Mugabe’s call for Mrs. Mujuru to resign is a clear sign of jealous.
“Mrs. Mugabe’s attacks on Mrs. Mujuru can be seen as a sign of extreme jealousy or a way of trying to disturb her from taking over. If she is not strong, she will be distracted but our wish is for her to take over the leadership of the party.”
But s senior Zanu PF provincial official told VOA Studio 7 by phone that his executive is yet to meet to officially discuss the issue although he hinted that President Mugabe may not be challenged at the December congress.
Mushore said his executive is solidly behind the incumbent.
For her part, Mrs. Mujuru, who has always praised Mr. Mugabe, has not indicated whether she will challenge for the presidency or not. She, however, has already indicated that she will not lose sleep over people who hate her in a message suspected to be targeted at her rivals in the faction led by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Even those who persecute others should be called so that we can work together, even those who hate me, you will like me when I deliver things that will change your life, even if you hate me. I cannot be liked by everyone. I cannot be hated by everyone. No. It will not hurt me that you don’t like me but some people will benefit from what I know what I can do. This shall come to pass.”
Zanu PF insiders say Mrs. Mugabe is publicly castigating Mrs. Mujuru as a way of campaigning for Mnangagwa to succeed her 90 year-old husband.
As if to confirm this, the first lady openly praised Mnangagwa last week Wednesday.
“This Mnangagwa, Mnangagwa is someone we should respect, he was voted for by 8 provinces to be vice president but he did the honorable thing and stepped aside. So I don’t understand, when she got in power she never learnt anything. She spent a lot of time eying the president’s position. We know her capabilities and where they end.”
Both Mujuru and Mnangagwa are allegedly leading factions that battling to succeed Mr. Mugabe but the two politicians are denying this.
Some political analysts say if Mr. Mugabe continues to dilly-dally in choosing his successor, divisions in Zanu PF will continue to worsen at the expense of the country’s economy.