First Lady Grace Mugabe could soon be elevated to Cabinet as part of Zanu PF plans to prepare her to succeed her ageing husband, President Robert Mugabe, and be in a position to defend the First Family’s business interests, as the sun sets on her 93-year-old husband’s career.
Institute for Security Studies consultant, Derek Matyszak, told a seminar in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday that Grace was concerned about her family’s security in the post-Mugabe era.
“She once expressed the fear that when Mugabe dies, she might be dragged along the tarmac behind a truck. So there are these fears and dynamics behind the scenes,” he said.
This comes shortly after Mugabe reshuffled permanent secretaries at several ministries, amid reports of a looming Cabinet reshuffle.
Matyszak, a constitutional law expert and political analyst, said Grace’s appointment to Cabinet would give her some political clout to protect her interests in the event her husband quits active party politics.
“This would be to improve her political capital so that she has some kind of political strength,” he said.
There has been speculation that there could have been a deal struck between the Mugabes and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year to protect Grace, but Matyszak said this alone was not sufficient.
“Even if a deal with Mnangagwa was struck, what guarantee does she have that he will adhere to such an arrangement?” Matyszak asked rhetorically.
The analyst said most people thought Grace derived her political capital entirely from her marriage to Mugabe, but her getting a doctorate three years ago and becoming Zanu PF women’s league secretary have given her political weight in her own right.
Given Mugabe’s age, Matyszak said, it was difficult to tell who was actually running the government in Zimbabwe, and to what extent the President still exercised power.
“Mugabe appears so frail that it doesn’t look like he can juggle between intricate manoeuvres needed to keep things in keel,” he said.
Highly-placed sources in government yesterday corroborated speculative reports that Mugabe was planning to appoint Grace to Cabinet at a time members of the First Family were grabbing strategic positions in key public entities.
On Monday, Mugabe’s daughter Bona Mugabe-Chikore was appointed to the Censorship Board.
Her husband is the chief operating officer at Air Zimbabwe.
“The rumours are that she [Grace] might be soon sitting in Cabinet because her husband has lost touch,” a source claimed.
Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushohwe was unreachable for comment, as his mobile phone went unanswered.