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Grace ‘insults’ torch storm

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FIRST LADY Grace Mugabe has angered a number of people within Zanu PF and sections of the party are calling for the issue to be discussed at the party’s politburo meeting on Friday or at the December congress, former Midlands governor Cephas Msipa said yesterday.

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Msipa, a politburo member, seemed to take particular issue with the way Grace castigated former Zapu leaders, whom she accused of being preoccupied with their former party, at the expense of Zanu PF.

“The First Lady has been going around the country insulting people. People are angry, people are bitter, party members are not happy with what she did,” he said yesterday.

“People from Bulawayo are likely to raise the issue on Friday, after she accused them of dividing the party and being preoccupied with Zapu.”

Msipa said he was bemused that people were being castigated for canvassing for the vice-presidency, saying they had the right to campaign for the post.

“As former Zapu, we chose SK (Simon Khaya Moyo), but (Phelekezela) Mphoko, (Kembo) Mohadi and (Naison) Khutshwekhaya (Ndlovu) do not want him as they feel they are suitable for the post,” he said.

Ndlovu has since dropped from the race, throwing his lot with Mphoko, while former Zipra stalwart Ambrose Mutinhiri is the other candidate for the post.

Msipa said with the prevailing situation, President Robert Mugabe may have to select who would assume the vice-presidency as the Unity Accord was silent on issues of elevation to the top post.

The former governor said he had spoken with Zanu PF Bulawayo province, who said they would raise the issue of Grace’s tongue-
lashing at future meetings.

Grace had no kind words for the five vying for the vice-presidency, describing them as divisive and being responsible for factionalism.

She said the five candidates should have agreed among themselves to back one candidate, instead of all of them campaigning publicly for that post.

However, Mphoko yesterday said he had no plans to meet any of his colleagues jostling for the vice-presidency position and instead maintained his charge for the top post, despite the brutal reprimand.

Mphoko’s remarks came a day after Mutinhiri insisted that he was still interested in the position, but was willing to meet his colleagues and try to agree on one candidate.

Mphoko, a former ambassador to South Africa, said he was the most qualified candidate to assume the post, agreeing with Ndlovu, who was brutal in his assessment of Moyo’s candidacy.

“I said my story long back and that is what I am still saying,” he said.

“I have no plans to sit down with anyone over this issue.

“I remain the most suitable candidate and I agree with Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, who said I am the rightful person for the post. He is correct. All he said is true.”

Ndlovu was quoted in the Chronicle describing Moyo — the Zanu PF chairman who had all along been a favourite for the post — as a schoolboy and a minute taker.

Contacted for comment on Ndlovu’s attack, a director in Moyo’s office, Gatsha Mazithulela said the Zanu PF chairman would not comment on “gratuitous insults”.

“The senior minister is busy doing serious government and party work and will not comment on gratuitous insults,” he said.

Mphoko also lashed out at the media for concentrating on his interests to be the vice-president ignoring he had donated a beast to Grace at her rally in Bulawayo, ironically, the venue of her most brutal attack on the vice-presidency candidates.

“You media have a problem. Why are you interested on the vice-presidency issue, ignoring that I gave a cow to the First Lady, while some people only pledged to give her some things?” he said without mentioning whom he meant.

“I am a cattle farmer at Mdlawuzo Farm, along the Victoria Falls Road between Nyamandlovu and Inyathi. I started farming there in 1992 and you people ignore such good things.”

However, in a new twist to the increasingly contentious battle for the vice-presidency, Zanu PF Matabeleland South spokesman Jabulani Phetshu Sibanda yesterday said anyone challenging Moyo for the post was wasting their time as the “vice-president’s post is a done deal”.

He said Moyo’s rivals were confusing party members as “it is not a fight based on individuals, but the procedure set by seniors long back”.

“We are challenging those who have shown interest in the vice-presidency post, which is due to be occupied by Simon Khaya Moyo, to convene a meeting to inform us when the seniority precedence changed,” he declared boldly.

“It will be difficult to convince former Zapu members that Moyo is not fit for the post, yet they selected him for chairman in 2009.
“What has changed? So we are saying the vice-presidency is a done deal, case closed.”

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