ONE of the candidates for the vice-presidency former Zipra commander Ambrose Mutinhiri yesterday said he stood by his word that he was interested in the post, despite First Lady Grace Mugabe berating the aspirants.
Mutinhiri said he understood Grace’s words to mean that she wanted the candidates to meet and agree on one name. However, he said he remained interested in the post despite the tongue-lashing the First Lady subjected the five aspirants to.
“I stand by my initial indications and I have made my decisions clear before,” he said.
“I think the First Lady was just advising us that we should sit down as Zapu members and talk over the issue. That is what we intend to do.
“I still stand by my decision, but we will do what she suggested.”
It was not immediately clear how Mutinhiri thought they would proceed on the matter.
Ministers Simon Khaya Moyo and Kembo Mohadi, Senator Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, ex-Zapu stalwart Phekezela Mphoko and Mutinhiri have openly shown interest in the vice-presidency which was left vacant by the death of John Nkomo.
Contacted for comment on the matter, Ndlovu said he had nothing to say, while Khaya Moyo and Mohadi could not be reached on their mobile phones for much of yesterday.
Mphoko has promised to give a detailed response on the matter today.
In a stinging rebuke, Grace roundly criticised the five, without mentioning names, saying some of them had failed to run vegetable patches in their backyards, yet they claimed they wanted to be vice-president.
She accused them of running Bulawayo to the ground as they were preoccupied with the top post and had failed to revive industry in the city.
Grace said the fact that there were five people gunning for the vice-presidency was an indication of factionalism within Zanu PF in Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe and Zanu PF have been run without a second vice-president since Nkomo’s death early last year.
Khaya Moyo was considered a shoe in for the post. However, after Grace’s rallies, his ambitions may have taken a dent.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF Matabeleland South spokesman, Jabulani Phetshu has described Grace as politically mature following her stinging rebuke on the vice-presidential aspirants
“The First Lady showed rare political maturity. She was bold to tackle the five in public advising them to drop their stance and that they risk tearing the party apart,” he said, lavishing praise on Grace.
“In recent months we have been urging the leaders to reconsider their positions and come up with one candidate, but they did not heed our call.
“Now that the First Lady, who was simply delivering a message from President Robert Mugabe, has boldly told them that their stance is fuelling factionalism, they must reform.”
Sibanda urged ex-Zapu secretary-general Cephas Msipa to urgently convene a meeting with the five candidates and buttress Grace’s move.