PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba has denied the veteran leader was sponsoring his wife’s controversial entry into national politics amid speculation that the First Lady was planning to succeed her husband.
In an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe.com on Friday, Charamba also denied his boss shared the First Lady’s controversial views during her countrywide rallies.
Until some two months ago, Grace had appeared content to play the role of supportive consort to her husband and philanthropic First Lady.
But her surprise entry into active politics after she was nominated to head the Zanu PF Women’s League has seen her pick fights with top party officials she accuses of trying to oust Mugabe.
The 49 year old First Lady has ranted furiously at Vice President Joice Mujuru and her perceived allies, accusing them of planning to oust the country’s founding leader, apparently because he is now too old.
President Mugabe has remained curiously tight-lipped as his wife humiliated some of his top lieutenants, with strong suggestions that Grace was acting with his blessings.
But Charamba was adamant President Mugabe must be excused from such speculation.
“The First Lady is the incoming secretary of the women’s league. That is not an auxiliary post; it’s a substantive post. Why do you want to go beyond herself?” said Charamba when asked if the President was in agreement with Grace’s divisive conduct.
“Mai Mugabe is an actor in her own right,” Charamba said, “She is the incoming secretary of the women’s league and that’s not a junior post; it’s a senior post and you can’t hold it until you have certain view points on subject matters.
“So this idea of trying to reference the President as if Mai Mugabe is an auxiliary player is a bit unfair.”
Charamba also dismissed claims by some local commentators that Grace was angling to succeed her 90-year-old husband.
Grace stoked the speculation after she declared as one of her rallies that she was eyeing a far bigger post than the one she has been offered.
Said Charamba: “Vakati kana varume muchikotsira on the job muchatorerwa mabasa nevakadzi. I don’t think that translates to an expression of her personal ambitions.
“In any case, if she is gunning for presidency, then she would be at war with her husband.
“…the incumbent President is her husband which means if she has any aspirations to Presidency, she must fight her husband.”
The information ministry permanent secretary also came to Grace’s defence after she was accused of violating a politburo directive for all prospective Zanu PF office holders to delay any campaigns for election.
With the women’s secretary job effectively hers, Grace still went on to launch a countrywide ‘meet-the-people-tour’, a development commentators said was meant to introduce her as potential successor to the Presidency.
“There is no set form for supporting your own bid for your post and no one should establish rules,” Charamba said.
“Some do it through whispering campaigns, some do it through street action, some do it through rallies; she has chosen rallies. What is wrong with that?
“Isn’t a rally by definition a political gathering? Why is it so odd for the first lady to hold rallies province by province.”
Grace’s costly nationwide rallies have been mired in controversy with reports saying white farmers have been railroaded into bankrolling the tours, claims which the Presidential spokesperson dismissed.
Charamba also denied Grace was targeting Mujuru after the first lady has continuously referred to a “powerful and corrupt woman who hails from Mashonaland Central”.
Critics say Grace, who remains junior within the Zanu PF packing order even after becoming women’s league leader, was being insubordinate to , who is second to President Mugabe.
“In the first place, she did not mention anyone’s name,” he said.
“You are not trying to suggest to me that the only person who hails from Mash Central is the Vice President because that would be utterly foolish.
“She did not mention anyone’s name. You guys established the connection. I hate it to be given the burden of your extrapolation as journalists.”