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Grace Mugabe, Oppah Muchinguri war escalates

by Staff reporter
02 Aug 2015 at 19:34hrs | Views
As Zanu-PF's deadly factional and succession wars get nastier and more confusing, the battle between First Lady Grace Mugabe and Water minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri over the control of Manicaland province, as well as the ruling party's women's league and youth structures in the province is escalating.

Sources within President Robert Mugabe's divided party told the Daily News yesterday that the war between the two ladies had recently witnessed many spouses of senior Zanu-PF officials allegedly trooping to Grace's multi-million dollar business hub in Mazowe, "in a bid to try and knock some sense into her".

Fresh details regarding the nasty cat-fight emerged yesterday, amid indications that the fight was taking a turn for the worse as Zanu-PF in Manicaland prepares to elect a substantive provincial leadership next month.

A well-placed source told the Daily News last night that the war between the two former political allies was causing "serious turbulence" in the province - which has seen suspensions and counter-suspensions of senior provincial officials, including a recent abortive vote of no confidence in the leadership of acting regional chairman Samuel Undenge.

The source added that Grace's name was allegedly "featuring prominently in several petitions" that were being drawn up by rival party youths fighting for the control of the provincial youth league structures.

"Things are very bad between the two women. As a result, todays' planned provincial coordinating committee (PCC), to audit the party structures ahead of the elections, is likely to produce fireworks," he said.

Another source said Muchinguri-Kashiri was allegedly pushing for the return of former chairperson Mike Madiro and his then deputy Dorothy Mabika, with the backing of some provincial women's league members and youth chairperson Kelvin Manyengavana.

"The First Lady, on the other hand, wants the status quo to remain, with Undenge becoming the substantive chairperson, as reward for ensuring that the party won the recent two by-elections in Headlands and Dangamvura-Chikanga," the central committee member said.

The senior party official added that Mandi Chimene, who is also a central committee member, was fighting Muchinguri-Kashiri allegedly to please Grace, whose power both in government and party had risen tremendously since she became women's league boss late last year.

Preparations for the Manicaland elections scheduled for next month will start today, with a high-powered party delegation led by secretary for war veterans in the Zanu-PF politburo Sydney Sekeramayi expected to attend the provincial co-ordinating committee meeting.

"Both the factions led by Muchinguri-Kashiri and that of the First Lady, as represented by Chimene, would want to see that all their people are part of the Electoral College. The weaker faction will have their supporters left out and the party knows there will be chaos, hence the presence of Sekeramayi at a PCC meeting of a foreign province," the insider added.

Recently, the party was forced to temporarily shut down its provincial offices following violent clashes between feuding youths from rival camps - which led to a planned PCC meeting being aborted.

"The situation is tense in the province because it is no longer a secret here that Muchinguri-Kashiri blames the First Lady for her political woes.

"She has made it clear that as things stand, she either has to become the provincial god-mother or she will have to content with being no more than a peripheral politburo member who has no constituency," a women's league official said.

Muchinguri-Kashiri and Grace ironically fought in the same corner when they plotted and fronted the decimation of former Vice President Joice Mujuru's camp in the run-up to Zanu-PF's disputed damp squib "elective" congress late last year.

The two apparently fell out later, amid claims that Muchinguri-Kashiri felt used by the First Lady, after the former reportedly failed to land the senior party positions that she coveted - a development that she blamed on Grace.

Muchinguri-Kashiri is said to have been angling to replace former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa as party secretary for administration, but was instead appointed to the lesser influential position of secretary for transport in the politburo.

To cover lost ground, insiders say this is what is driving Muchinguri-Kashiri to set her eyes on controlling Manicaland province and working to weaken Grace's influence in the region.

An audio recording, in which Muchinguri-Kashiri is allegedly heard plotting against her rivals in the province was recently leaked - ushering to the fore the infighting that is devouring Zanu-PF and which the ruling party has continuously denied.

Two weeks ago, sources within Zanu-PF also claimed that the war between the two ladies had recently witnessed many spouses of senior Zanu-PF officials allegedly trooping to Grace's multi-million dollar business hub in Mazowe, "in a bid to try and knock some sense into her".

Apparently, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa's wife, Auxilia, had led a Midlands women's league delegation to Mazowe, where it appeared that the intention was to de-campaign Gweru businesswoman Smelly Dube, who is allegedly linked to the First Lady and the ambitious party Young Turks who are known as the Generation 40 (G40) group.

"The delegations talked bad about Dube and claimed that she was the one fuelling factionalism in Midlands. They also accused Dube of using her financial muscle to cause division amongst women's league members.

"However, Amai (Grace) refused to entertain those allegations and instructed the women to work together. Amai also questioned why they were talking about Dube in her absence, saying allegations should always be dealt with when all parties are available.

"It's unfortunate for Mai Mnangagwa and her team because they did not get what they wanted," one of the sources said.

Mnangagwa's wife declined to comment about the matter when approached by the Daily News saying, "Zanu-PF has structures. Please may you look for the provincial chair or spokesperson for women. I do not know about that issue".

Dube was unavailable for comment.

At the same time, and amid this confusion, it also emerged then that the party's youth league was seeking a meeting with Grace to complain about Muchinguri-Kashiri's "nefarious activities" in Manicaland - where the Water minister is in a bruising fight with regional leaders over who is in control of the province.

The Water minister is now said to have cut her ties with the G40's brains trust, the so-called Gang of Four, choosing instead to throw in her lot with Mnangagwa's camp, while Grace and the G40 are allegedly on the other side.

Source - daily news