PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, has all but abandoned her alleged bid to land a cabinet post after her name was conspicuously missing from a list of party candidates due to contest the June by-elections, New ZImbabwe has reported.
With her sudden entry into mainstream politics last year, coupled with a mysterious attainment of a University of Zimbabwe PhD, all seemed the First Lady was being prepared for high office.
Asked by journalists last week if his wife harbored presidential ambitions, President Mugabe replied: “She doesn’t have those ambitions. No, I don’t think so. She has accepted the post of being secretary for women’s affairs and she has got her own charity to care for.”
The couple had been on a state visit to South Africa.
Until events of the past few weeks, the controversial First Lady was also rumoured to be earmarked for appointment as women’s affairs minister.
This was made even probable when President Mugabe had deliberately left the post vacant in his cabinet reshuffle a few months ago.
Under Zimbabweans laws, the president is required to appoint his cabinet from among elected MPs.
It was further believed her entry into government could have been tailored to grant her the strategic proximity to the country’s levers of power so as to protect the first family’s rich business empire in the event of her 91 year old husband’s death.
From the weekend’s events, Grace has all but baulked from pursuing her ambition, with analysts saying the Mugabes have had a mysterious change of heart in an unpopular plot to parachute her entry into government.
“It looks like something has gone wrong…it seems that it was a planned and ambitioned programme that seems to have gone to the background,” said renowned publisher and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza in an interview this past weekend.
Mandaza said this could have been an involuntary withdrawal by the garrulous Grace as opposed to being a political strategy by the first family.
“It seems it’s something that has gone wrong in the Mugabe PF at the moment. All is not well. All cannot be the same anymore.”
Charles Mangongera, another Harare-based analyst, said Grace may have decided to surrender her ambition because of her recurrent illness.
“I think that if you look at what has happened in the last month or so it’s very clear that she has slowed down in terms of her political activities,” Mangongera said.
“When she became politically active, she was gladiating from one corner of the country to the other; my suspicion is that her health is taking a toll. She is not the same person that we know. This could be a health issue.”
The First Lady has spent several weeks outside the country since the beginning of the year on a medically induced absence.