Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe is reportedly ‘plotting’ to contest for the Harare South parliamentary seat in next year’s general elections, which could open the way for her to be considered for a Cabinet post, it has been learnt.
Initial reports had indicated that the Zanu PF women’s league chairperson was eyeing Harare East or Mazowe, but it seems she has settled for Harare South, currently held by fellow party member, Shadreck Mashayamombe.
“She has made indications that she wants Harare South and the current MP has already been advised to ‘look for another constituency’,” a Zanu PF insider, who declined to be named, said.
“The First Lady’s people are already on the ground in the constituency.”
Harare South constituency is largely an informal settlement, where various Zanu PF officials are often seen fighting for land.
The ruling party has used housing co-operatives in the area as conduits to hold on to the constituency for over a decade now.
Contacted for comment, Mashayamombe dismissed the reports, saying: “We have not been approached as a province regarding that issue. I am hearing it from you.”
Grace’s ally and Zanu PF women’s league treasurer, Sarah Mahoka, also scoffed at the suggestions.
“People should find better things to do with their time than to continue with a smear campaign against the First Lady,” she said.
“She is a national leader and would not want to stoop that low to be an MP. What would she gain from that?
“I do not even have to consult her, but I can assure you it is not going to happen. She will not reduce herself to be an MP.”
However, sources close to the developments insisted the First Lady would represent Zanu PF in next year’s general elections.
“It’s a done deal. Well, nobody is going to stop her if she really wants and that is the way we have accepted it. We are still waiting for official communication though,” a provincial leader, who declined to be identified, said.
The First Lady, with the backing of a faction known as G40, is locked in a bitter tussle for power with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as senior figures in the ruling party look beyond President Robert Mugabe, who turns 93 in two weeks.
Zanu PF youth league leader, Kudzai Chipanga, seemed to indicate that, while the First Lady had gone quiet, she was still a contender.
“It is not secret that the youth league and the women’s league work closely together, hence, we will have no problem with supporting a woman to any position of the party, including the Presidency, as long as it is done according to the dictates of the Zanu PF constitution and, like I have said, that person must carry the name Mugabe,” he was quoted as having said.
Should Grace Mugabe contest for the parliamentary seat and win, and also be named to Cabinet, she would have followed in the footsteps of Uganda First Lady Janet Museveni, who joined Parliament as the MP for Ntungamo and was later named Minister for Karamoja Affairs by her husband President Yoweri Museveni.