With the post-congress Zanu PF’s factional and succession wars showing no signs of abetting anytime soon, First Lady Grace Mugabe has taken another dig at a section of war veterans that she says is opposed to her, adding defiantly that no one can silence her.
Addressing thousands of party supporters in the Harare suburb of Mbare yesterday, Grace – who is believed to be working with the group of young Zanu PF followers known as the Generation 40 (G40), which is opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa – also bemoaned, once again, rampant factionalism within the ruling party.
Her emphatic denunciation of factionalism in Zanu PF flies against the desperate attempts by both government and party propagandists over the past few weeks that the ruling party is united and not wracked by divisions.
Likening herself to a powerful engine, President Robert Mugabe’s wife also took a massive swipe at her Zanu PF rivals describing them as cowards who trembled with fear each time they heard that she was holding a rally.
“They can say whatever they want to say … but I won’t stop. I have the energy, I have a 60-horse power engine to work for the people,” she charged, adding that “there are people who are afraid when they see the 60-horse power working … and start bad mouthing me. When that happens I work harder and get into 90-horsepower (mode)”.
“Factionalism is there in Zanu PF … it’s there, and those who are doing it know themselves,” she said emphatically to applause.
The First Lady also declared at the rally, which shut down most of Mbare and the pulsating home industries in the suburb’s precincts, that she was “back” – as she tore into some war veterans who have been attacking her over the past few weeks.
“My name is Mafirakureva (the one who dies for the truth). I tell the truth and there is nothing more I do than speak the truth. The problem with people is that they are used to blackmailing others …
“Let me tell you, you are not gonna (sic) get me, I have my mouth. You can only silence me by shooting me and killing me. You’re not gonna (sic) silence me. I am not going to tolerate nonsense in Zanu PF. I will speak, I won’t stop,” she said.
She also moved to explain why she had attacked some war veterans at her rally in Rushinga, saying a few ex-combatants falsely believed that they were superior to other Zimbabweans and must therefore be treated preferentially.
Fortunately, she said, she had the support of the majority of war veterans. She also challenged her detractors to a game of numbers to show who had the backing of most ex-combatants.
“I will not be gagged or intimidated. I am prepared to die for the truth. I have stayed with the biggest guerrilla cooking for him and today people say I don’t like war veterans? My brother was also a war veteran who died in 2010, and he fought the war.
“If you want, go and bring your war veterans and I will bring mine and let us see who wins. Try it if you want, try it.
“There are certain people who think they are important and say I am a war veteran I cannot be told anything by Grace Mugabe because she didn’t go to war. There is nothing like that,” she said.
Grace went on to extend an olive branch to party officials who are currently serving lengthy suspensions after they were accused of being key figures behind former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s faction that allegedly sought to oust and assassinate Mugabe.
She urged Zanu PF supporters in Mbare to “forgive your MP Tendai Savanhu who is here even if he might have done wrong in the past”.
“He has realised his mistake, that is why he came here with me. So, I urge you to work with him. You are also mothers and should have the spirit of forgiveness,” she pleaded amid a chorus of disapproval from the crowd – prompting her to promise them; “I will have to come back here with the message of forgiveness”.
The evidently mellowing Grace also went out of her way to embrace the country’s independent media at the rally, inviting them to continue playing its watchdog role, but in a constructive way.
Speaking earlier, Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere castigated people who did not support the first lady, saying such people were possessed by demons.
“Those people who don’t support Amai should be exorcised of their demons,” he said.