THE NOMINATION and impending appointment of the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe as Women’s League chairperson is a significant political development that should help Zanu-PF quell factionalism which is affecting the party’s capacity to deliver on its 2013 electoral promises. This is the view of a cross-section of analysts, who have been speaking to The Herald, many of them on condition of anonymity, in the wake of last week’s National Conference of the Zanu-PF Women’s League which unanimously endorsed Amai Mugabe as incoming chairperson of the Women’s League.
Incumbent Women’s League boss Cde Oppah Muchinguri, who is voluntarily relinquishing her post in December, has also been commended for not only showing political maturity by putting the party’s interests above her own position, but for also demonstrating that she is a skilled political leader who is able to correctly read the popular sentiment in Zanu-PF and in the country at large.
Analysts say it is clear that the majority of Zimbabweans who voted for Zanu-PF in the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections are sick and tired of the struggle for positions gripping higher echelons of the ruling party.
They say ordinary people want Zanu-PF to deliver on its poll promises which have since been translated into Zim-Asset, the Government’s policy document designed to benefit all Zimbabweans regardless of how they voted last year.
The preponderant view among observers is that, on close scrutiny, the endorsement of Amai Mugabe is a compelling statement that women want to see real policy action on the ground in terms of issues of bread and butter.
This sentiment is attributed to the First Lady’s proven track record of supporting vulnerable individuals and groups with her initiatives at Danhiko and Mazowe Orphanage, among other interventions she has undertaken over the years.
Cde George Rutanhire, the National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary for gender and national chairman of the Fallen Heroes Trust, yesterday lauded Zanu-PF for elevating Amai Mugabe, arguing she was going to bring vast experience in the administration of the party’s wing.
“She has vast experience and has been working with the party for long given that she has been involved in programmes the President has been doing.
She has been to many countries and has been exposed to leadership of those countries.
We expect that experience to benefit the Women’s League, the party and the country,” he said.
Cde Rutanhire said Amai Mugabe was involved in many development projects countrywide among them the orphanage, helping disadvantaged women and her business acumen was beyond reproach.
“Young as she is, she has mastered the art and he needs of the revolutionary party.
She is visionary, young and innovative.
That is the young generation that we want groomed in the party.
We want to move down and groom more young people like Amai Mugabe and give them challenging tasks,” he said.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Dr Charity Manyeruke said the appointment of the First Lady was in recognition of the great works she did over the years.
“In the Zvimba community, she was spearheading some women empowerment projects.
She is also into charity work and she has done a lot for Zanu-PF.
She also did a lot of campaigning for the successful July 31 elections which led to the resounding victory for the party,” she said.
Dr Manyeruke said Amai Mugabe’s appointment would bring a huge unifying effect to the party that that had been rocked by divisions and factions.
Accusations that the First Lady’s entry into politics is akin to developing a political dynasty have also been dismissed as mischievous given that Zanu-PF, has a number of political families including husbands and wives in the ruling Party’s Central Committee, which is the highest policymaking body in between congresses.
Notable examples are Cdes Webster Shamu and his wife, Constance; Obert Mpofu and his wife XX; the Mutsvangwas, Monica and Chris; the Mohadis, Kembo and Tambudzani, the Kasukuweres, Saviour, Tongai and Dickson Mafios; across the floor in the opposition there are the Madzore brothers Solomon and Paul, the Makones Ian and Theresa; and even across the Mediterranean or Atlantic that some people like to use as standard bearers of best practices, there were the celebrated Kennedys, the Bush family, George HW, George W and Jeb; the Clintons, Bill and Hillary; and the Milliband brothers in Britain, Ed and David; a such only a tonne of hypocrisy – the analysts say – would move one to claim that having Mai Mugabe as Women’s League is akin to creating a political dynasty.
In any event it should be remembered that President Mugabe has on many occasions, over the years, repeatedly said members of his family could come into politics only because of their individual merit and interest and not by dint of his own involvement in politics or his leadership of Zanu PF and the country.
The First Lady has passed that test by demonstrating over the years that she has practical political skills which she has deployed to help change and improve the livelihoods of ordinary people, especially among vulnerable groups who are often forgotten by mainstream politicians.
On two occasions over the past month, the Zanu-PF Women’s and Youth Leagues courted the First Lady to lead the Women’s League by converging in their numbers at her orphanage in Mazowe.
The nature of the request and the setting were very significant in that the Orphanage where the First Lady looks after a number of orphaned and vulnerable children paralleled seemingly orphaned organs of the party seeking motherly guidance and protection much like the thousands of orphans the First Lady looks after; and most importantly it was virtually two out of the party’s three key organs that approached her with the concurrence of the incumbent chairperson who is voluntarily relinquishing her post for Mai Mugabe.
While the approaches by the two party organs were, in terms of the Zanu-PF constitution, informal affairs, the issue was formalised at the 6th National Conference of the Women’s League where the First Lady gave her acceptance and effectively became the incoming chairperson of the Women’s League.
As such Mai Mugabe was officially endorsed by the Women’s League elective conference to be national chairperson, after being approached by two of the party’s three organs.
She did not impose herself on Zanu-PF or the people, and even when she was approached she did not jump feet first like a power hungry individual, as she actually asked for time to consider the request, whose acceptance she made at a duly convened elective conference of the ruling party where some misguided people were busy trying to use cash to buy votes in pursuit of their personal ambitions for higher officer.
Analysts, thus, say anyone who claims to value electoral democracy should celebrate the way the First Lady has joined mainstream politics, namely by the will of the majority of the people and at a properly constituted elective conference of the ruling party.
This, coming at a time of disturbing reports of compromised and dirty jockeying for positions in the party on the back of financial inducements, intimidation and manipulation should be applauded by well-meaning people in and outside Zanu PF regardless of political differences.
Some elements within and outside Zanu-PF have sought to cast aspersions on the First Lady simply apparently because her ascension to the helm of the Women’s League at the behest of popular demand removes the carpet from under some not-so-hidden political ambitions at play.
Mai Mugabe has amassed political capital as a politician in her own right not least because she has visibly and actively stood by her husband over the years, officiating at various forums, hitting the campaign trail when others who are now making noise were playing bhora musango against President Mugabe.
Analysts contend that in accosting her for leadership, the Women’s League was inspired by Mai Mugabe’s practical approach to politics.
At a time when there’s a lot of hot air out there, the First Lady has distinguished herself by for example doing practical things to assist and improve the lives of the needy such as orphans among other vulnerable members of our society.
Where others including some of her leading detractors use occasional photo opportunities to donate trinkets of one sort or another in the vain hope of winning votes to get to the top, Amai Mugabe has over time systematically sought sustainable ways to empower vulnerable individuals so that they can acquire the skills of life as exemplified by her work at Danhiko and Mazowe Orphanage.
By helping vulnerable individuals, Mai Mugabe has transformed the lives of families and communities and in the process effectively empowered the nation itself.
This is the capacity which analysts say the First Lady will bring not only to the Zanu-PF’s Women’s League but also to the whole Party and by extension to the nation.
So her impending appointment is a refreshing and most welcome development.