FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has blasted Zanu PF bigwigs allegedly fanning factionalism and those unhappy with their current positions, warning if further provoked, she can swiftly seal their fate as she is the kingmaker in the ruling party.
Grace’s remarks at a rally at Mutambara Mission in Chimanimani yesterday came after a heated briefing where Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene nailed senior Zanu PF officials allegedly throwing spanners on the development of both the province and unity within Zanu PF.
In apparent reference to Zanu PF politburo and central committee members, in particular officials linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Grace said she would one day disclose those behind factionalism.
Addressing thousands of bussed Zanu PF supporters, Grace — who was accompanied by at least 16 ministers together with close to 40 legislators — also complained about backbiting that was exposed in an embarrassing leaked audio tape where party officials were conspiring against some members.
“We don’t want factionalism. I said it in the briefing meeting that people think factionalism only happens at the top level, no, there are also people doing factionalism at the lower structures. Down with them because they are dividing the party,” she said amid wild cheers from the rented Zanu PF crowd.
There was a chilling silence in the VIP tent as President Robert Mugabe’s wife raged against senior party colleagues.
“When I said down with factionalism, I noticed that there are some people who are not happy with what I said. Stop it, whoever is involved in factionalism should stop it,” Grace fumed.
She warned Zanu PF leaders against abusing party supporters by peddling lies and taking them for fools.
The First Lady said in Zanu PF she was literally the referee who could decide who stays or goes in a game.
She vowed to blow the whistle like what she did last year in a development that resulted in the dismissal of senior party officials among them former Vice President Joice Mujuru and several Cabinet ministers linked to her.
“It will come another time when I will be prompted to blow the whistle. I am likening politics to a football match because we say bhora mugedhi (ball in the nets) in Zanu PF and I am the referee. All members are playing the match and if you infringe on anyone I will blow the whistle,” she warned.
There were reports that Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri was unhappy with the position of party secretary for transport that she was given in the politburo although she has disputed this.
Manicaland province is divided along Muchinguri supporters and those aligned to acting chairman Samuel Undenge and Chimene.
As Grace attacked faction leaders, some supporters were chanting slogans denouncing Zanu PF leaders allegedly fanning divisions in the province.
Grace paraded ministers linked to the G40, Patrick Zhuwao (Youth and Indigenisation) and Saviour Kasukuwere (Local Government).
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko who is reportedly sympathetic to the G40 curiously introduced Grace at the rally instead of the other way round as demanded by party protocol.
The First Lady said Manicaland was an important province that has seven ministers and as such it must be handled with care and rescued from insane officials who were fanning factionalism and drawing the party back from fulfilling election promises.
She said although her husband Mugabe was aging at 91, people must continue supporting him as he was the only most eligible person to lead the country.
Grace said Undenge was educated enough to hold a ministerial post and urged aspiring leaders to first get education.
She also said the country was open to foreign direct investment (FDI), contradicting Zhuwao who last week said there was no need to pursue such avenues to revive the economy.
She donated tractors, ploughs and planters among other farming implements as she launched a spirited campaign to revive horticulture activities of beans in Cashel Valley and surrounding areas.
Grace donated several food stuffs to thousands of bussed Zanu PF supporters from all the corners of the province.
There were however ugly scenes when police whisked away placard waving people who stormed the VIP section demonstrating against suspended Chimanimani West MP Munacho Mutezo.
Speaker after speaker praised the initiative that was fronted by the Zanu PF women’s league particularly Undenge’s wife, Letina.
Earlier, when Grace was attending a briefing rival members of the famous Mbare Chimurenga choir nearly fought as they battled to outshine each other.
Most Cabinet ministers, MPs and top Zanu PF officials attended the Chimanimani rally.