ZANU PF national spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo has defended First Lady Grace Mugabe’s bizarre seat choice during Wednesday’s politburo meeting where she snuggled next to the party president despite her junior position in the party’s ranking order.
Information minister Jonathan Moyo also weighed in, using Twitter to attack the media’s “fixation” with the politburo seating arrangements.
After images of her occupying a seat ordinarily reserved for a member of the presidium were splashed on social media, the increasingly influential First Lady was quickly accused by her critics as having disregarded party protocol.
But Khaya Moyo denied Grace trashed protocol by occupying a seat that was once occupied by her nemesis, Joice Mujuru.
“There is no such rule. I have not seen it anyway in terms of our own constitution in terms of sitting arrangement. There are no rules like that,” said the Zanu PF spokesperson.
Grace, who is Zanu PF secretary for women’s affairs and a distant number 16 in the party’s packing order, appeared unmoved by what many described as a ‘coup’ and a patently overbearing attitude over her elderly husband.
The strange set up also reignited claims President Mugabe was preparing his much younger wife for takeover of the party and eventually the country.
But SK Moyo was adamant there were no marked seats in the party’s powerful organ.
Asked if any of the politburo members was free to grab a seat next to the party president, SK Moyo replied: “I said there is no rule like that. Check with the secretary for administration Cde Chombo (Ignatius).
Efforts however to reach Chombo were fruitless as he was not picking his mobile phone.
Information minister Jonathan Moyo also responded to questions over the saga during exchanges on Twitter Thursday.
“The arrangement, if we can call it that, was not decided by Dr Grace Mugabe. It was a matter of following well-established protocol in such circumstances,” he said.
The information minister said Grace has always sat next to her husband during other party gatherings including central committee meetings and five-yearly national congress.
“If Dr Mugabe can sit next to the President at a Central Committee meeting, why can’t she do the same at a politburo meeting given that the politburo is only a secretariat of the Central Committee?
“Yes, she is now the Secretary for Women’s Affairs, but that does not change the fact that she’s the First Lady,” he said.
However, top academic and publisher Ibbo Mandaza described the saga as a chronic subversion.
“I agree with social media reports suggesting that Mugabe was in fact, accompanying Grace,” he said, adding, “don’t be surprised if you hear an announcement one of these days that Grace has taken over as head of state especially when you saw everybody trooping to the airport to meet a first lady. That has never happened before.
“These are strange political happenings in Zimbabwe, very strange and very disturbing. It’s both unreal and unsustainable.
“In my view, it’s a chronic subversion of politics. I don’t think it’s sustainable in the Zimbabwe of the 21st century, it’s an aberration which is not sustainable.”
Meanwhile, SK Moyo has denied former party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa was fired by the First Lady.
The Zanu PF disciplinary committee which was tasked with hearing Mutasa’s case failed to sit for nearly three weeks until Grace jetted into the country after a two months health related absence.
“Some members were out of the country and they came back,” Moyo said.
“We have got a national disciplinary committee we don’t have such arrangement where somebody can fire. We have a national disciplinary committee and a politburo.”