“YOU will have to arrest all of us and send us to prison for you to lead this country,” First Lady Grace Mugabe charged Thursday in remarks directed at vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Grace was speaking at an event in the capital while across town, and at around the same time, Mnangagwa was addressing a press conference where he confirmed that he had been poisoned as matters come to a head in the fight to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
The vice president appears headed for ouster from government and the ruling party, likely around the time of Zanu PF’s end of year national conference.
Former vice president Joice Mujuru’s dismissal followed a similar script in 2014. She was subjected to savage personal attacks and allegations of fraud and plotting a coup before being kicked out of office.
The Mugabes are now subjecting Mnangagwa to similar treatment.
President Mugabe, increasingly frail and unsteady on his feet, will be 94 next year when Zimbabwe holds fresh elections which he is determined to contest and extend his 37-year rule.
But even his wife appears unconvinced that the near-centenarian can cope it. She recently asked him to name a successor but is determined that that heir must not be Mnangagwa.
Grace is associated with the so-called G40 faction of the ruling Zanu PF party while Mnangagwa is the head and succession choice for the rival Lacoste grouping.
On Thursday, the First Lady directly and savagely attacked Mnangagwa. She claimed that his allies among the war veterans were threatening a coup if the vice president was stopped from succeeding Mugabe.
“Stop moving around threating people that if Mnangagwa is not appointed to be the next President we will kill people,” she said.
“We are being threatened day and night that if Mnangagwa is not appointed we will kill you. No, we will not bow down to that pressure! Never!”
She continued; “Who ever said every Jack and Jill should be a President?
“You will have to arrest all of us and sent us to prison for you to lead this country.
“President (Mugabe) said these people want us to sleep with one eye open. I am not going to do that; I am going to sleep peacefully because I know someone is watching over me.”
Grace upped the pressure further by claiming that Mnangagwa was plotting a coup.
“They say there will be a coup, but no-one will recognise you. The African Union will not recognise you, the SADC [Southern African Development Community] will not,” she charged.
“You must be grateful that you have a tolerant leader like Mugabe and don’t take that tolerant too far.
“You continue to abuse the President, you tell him this story today, tomorrow you tell him another story which is contrary to what you said to him. You think he is a fool!”
Mnangagwa fell ill at a political rally led by Mugabe in August and had to be airlifted to South Africa for treatment.
His supporters suggested the rival G40 group had poisoned him and enraged the First Family by appearing to blame ice cream from Mugabes’ dairy firm.
At his press conference Thursday, Mnangagwa said that while doctors had confirmed that he was poisoned, it was “false and malicious” to suggest that it was at the hands of the first lady.
But the clarification has failed to calm the Mugabes who are now though to be preparing the ground for Mnangagwa’s dismissal likely around Zanu PF’s end of year conference.
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