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Grace Mugabe fights to win in Zimbabwe’s Game of Thrones

If the declaration of her ambition caught Zimbabweans off guard, it was because people hadn’t been paying attention.

In 2012, two years before this announcement, she had more than gestured at this prospect.

In response to a question of whether accompanying Mugabe on the election campaign trail meant she wanted to be next president,  she told a state weekly:

“I went on to ask them if there was anything wrong if the people one day decided they wanted me to be the president of this country. So, really, some people took it that way, that I wanted to be a politician and that’s why I was campaigning.”

Then she was still being coy, for when asked whether she had intentions of joining the political fray, she replied, “not quite. I have not anticipated [sic] that.”

Since then, she has been elevated to ZANU-PF’s politburo, the party’s highest decision-making body, and regularly holds rallies together with her husband.

At the time of her marriage to Mugabe, the late political scientist John Makumbe said, “although she says she is not interested in politics, the nature of our politics is such that practically, she will be a big influence. A lot of people, especially, in ZANU-PF seem to recognize this fact and are already looking for vantage points because they know that their whole system is built on patronage, and access to Mugabe is crucial. Many of these people were, figuratively, licking Grace’s feet throughout the weekend”.

It was a prescient observation because, in the 2000s, as President Mugabe took a laissez-faire approach to government because of old age and various ailments, and began to spend more time at home, the Mugabe private residence in Harare became central to Zimbabwe’s Game of Thrones.

Warm relations with the president’s wife guaranteed access to Mugabe.

Even though five years ago she waved away suspicions of being the power behind the throne as “nonsense”, it is clear Mugabe has become increasingly reliant on his immediate family on a day-to-day basis.

“They say Mr Mugabe is a very old man, this and that, but the president is very sound and lucid. Very, very sound, I am telling you, very energetic. He will not miss his morning exercise, seven days a week. Which other old man can do that at his age?” she asked in 2012. 

Not many, that’s for certain, but it’s now five years later.

After the assault, Robert Mugabe headed to South Africa for a regional meeting where he suddenly had to also rescue his wife.

As long as he remains in power, the South African assault case will in all likelihood turn out to be  a minor inconvenience played out on social media, which won’t stop Grace Mugabe’s bigger concern: to manage the succession so that she can secure her and her family’s vast interests.

By Percy Zvomuya- This article was originally published by TRT World

 

 

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