Is Zimbabwe set for a Mugabe dynasty with Grace as VP?

Grace Mugabe addressing a crowd at a youth interface rally in Lupane.

Grace Mugabe addressing a crowd at a youth interface rally in Lupane.

A flurry of party endorsements and parades in honour of Grace Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first lady, could mark the stirring of a national political dynasty for the Mugabes, as structures within the ruling Zanu PF endorse Grace as a potential candidate for the vice presidency following Monday’s dismissal of former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
All the party’s provinces have rallied around the 52-year-old for the vice presidency, with her strongest support coming from the Zanu PF women’s league, which she leads, and the youth league.
Youth league leader, Kudzanai Chipanga, who organised a solidarity march in her honour on Wednesday, said she was the only person fit to take up the post.
“As youth, we don’t believe in patriarchy; women can also be leaders. We want [Grace] Mugabe as our vice president because she can work well with the president and she can help him in leading the nation,” he said.
The solidarity gathering was held to apologise to the first lady for being heckled by a small group of pro-Mnangagwa.
The overwhelming support for Grace comes ahead of an extraordinary Zanu-PF congress to be held in the capital, Harare.
That gathering next month is set to endorse President Robert Mugabe as the party’s one centre of power and sole presidential candidate for 2018’s elections.
Grace herself has not ruled out the possibility of becoming vice president, nor has she rejected claims that she aspires to succeed her husband.
“My husband is the president, and I’m the president’s wife. I’m a woman, so why can’t I be the vice president? Am I not a child of Zimbabwe?” she said to crowds at a rally in the second city of Bulawayo at the weekend.
During the first years of their marriage in 1996, Grace had little involvement in political affairs and mainly focused on managing the family’s vast business and real estate interests in Zimbabwe and beyond.
Shopping sprees abroad earned the former president’s office typist the monikers “First Shopper” and “Gucci Grace”.
Since her controversial attainment of a PhD in Sociology in 2014 – she was hastily awarded a doctorate from the University of Zimbabwe – and her election as first secretary of the Zanu PF women’s league, she has become more involved in party politics.
In late 2014, Grace held a series of rallies accusing the then vice president, Joice Mujuru, of conspiring to topple Mugabe. -Aljazeera

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