When First Lady Grace Mugabe started blasting then Vice-President Joice Mujuru, and moved on to new Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, most people thought this was because of the new powers she had just got as Secretary for Women’s Affairs in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
But Grace has been the power behind the throne for some time.
Norwegian ambassador to Zimbabwe Gunnar Foreland told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray soon after his arrival in Zimbabwe in 2009 that in terms of who has President Robert Mugabe’s ear and who wields the most influence on him, most people do not appreciate the role Grace plays.
“She acts as a kind of gatekeeper, often controlling who sees him, and what information gets to him,” he said.
At the time, Foreland said, Grace was assisted by then Central Bank governor Gideon Gono.
Gono lost his influence when his term of office expired at the end of 2013 but he has been brought back as chairman of the Special Economic Zones board.
He also lost considerable political support because of his links to Grace and was barred from taking over as Senator for Manicaland after the death of his home mate Kumbirai Kangai.
But his place could have been filled by any of the Young Turks now in what is called the G40.
These include political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo whom she defended vehemently at the recent Chinhoyi rally.
Grace also seems to have the ear of Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko who is backing her demand that Mugabe name a successor to avoid chaos within the party should be leave.
Though most people seem to be writing her off in the succession game, she is not saying what she says at public rallies without the blessing of her husband, unless he has been so incapacitated that she is actually now running the show.
Below are the first 600 Wikileaks cables on Mugabe- tomorrow the final 25.
Tuesday we kick off with Tsvangirai’s 726 cables.
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