Cunning Grace controls fallout

HARARE – In a surprising turn of events, the top 50 office bearers of the Zanu PF women’s league, who met in Harare yesterday, did not make a definitive public pronouncement on the fate of embattled party heavyweights Eunice Sandi Moyo and Sarah Mahoka — instead passing the buck on the hot potato issue to the party’s politburo.

Yet, yesterday’s meeting had been called to endorse the decision taken by the women’s league’s top 10 officials — who met with powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe in Harare on Monday, and voted for the sacking of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka.

Once again, Sandi Moyo and Mahoka, as well as Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga — the minister of State in Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s office — just like they did on Monday, did not attend yesterday’s meeting at Zanu PF’s headquarters in the capital.

But according to State broadcaster, the ZBC, Grace said the meeting had been convened to consider the petitions that had come from the provinces regarding the two ladies, before “making a final decision”.

“Addressing the meeting this afternoon (yesterday), the national secretary of the wing and first lady, Amai Dr Grace Mugabe said the meeting aims at examining the issues raised by the demonstrators and allegations with a view to ascertaining whether they are true, genuine or not and coming up with recommendations that will be forwarded to the politburo and the disciplinary committee for final decision,” the ZBC said.

Women’s league secretary for information Thokozile Mathuthu later told the media after the meeting that the key organ was going to follow its constitution before making public its final decision.

“Following the deliberations, it suffices at this stage to say that due process regarding the resolution of disciplinary cases of this nature will be followed through the dictates of the rules of our revolutionary party, and the nation will be advised accordingly in the fullness of time,” Mathuthu said.

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However, well-placed sources told the Daily News last night that the fate of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka “had been sealed” — adding ominously that “more purges are on the way”.

The insiders added that the decision to defer pronouncements on the matter to the politburo was consistent with President Robert Mugabe’s insistence that Zanu PF should exhaust all party procedures in such matters, and give a fair hearing to members facing claims of indiscipline.

“The fact remains that those two are history. The so-called processes are only a formality as it was agreed by the national (women’s league) executive that they should go,” a league official said.

Mahoka, who was in the United States of America during last week’s demonstrations, told the Daily News last night that she was “shocked” by the developments.

“I was away and only came back on Friday and I was shocked to hear that I am being accused of being disrespectful to the first lady … Mahoka, of all the people! How does that happen?

“If Mahoka doesn’t like the first lady, then who does? I have always been at the forefront of supporting her and the president, and this will not change my position because I know it is not them who are behind all this,” the clearly emotional Mahoka said.

She accused “a Kadoma businessman” of fomenting divisions in the women’s league.

“He has been saying on a video that he wants me and Sandi out of the party, claiming to be some co-ordinator of the project. I don’t know which Zanu PF organ this person is co-ordinator of because it cannot be the women’s league, because he is not a woman.

“However, and as a disciplined party cadre, I will wait for the announced process to unfold. But I will support the first lady and the president even from cell level because I benefited a lot from their leadership, including the farm that I own.

“And for that reason I can’t abandon them,” the forthright Mahoka added.

While the league was tight-lipped about what transpired in the Monday meeting, sources had told the Daily News afterwards that  an official announcement about the two women’s expulsion would be made yesterday.

“They (Sandi Moyo and Mahoka) have been expelled. Amai (Grace) showed her power today and from now on they are nobodies

“Amai will chair a meeting of the women’s league top 50 at the Zanu PF Headquarters on Tuesday, and we understand that both Sandi and Mahoka are barred from attending that meeting,” one of the sources said.

Mahoka, who is famed for having publicly dressed down Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in front of Mugabe last year, is the women’s league treasurer, while Sandi Moyo is Grace’s deputy.

The women’s league has been closely linked to a party faction going by the name Generation 40 (G40), which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.

In February last year, Mahoka brazenly heckled Mnangagwa — calling the stunned VP in front of Mugabe and other bigwigs a lame duck.

Mahoka and Sandi Moyo were also among the group of women’s league members who have been aggressively pushing for the revival of the debate about the need for a woman to become one of Zanu PF’s two vice presidents.

Their calls for a woman to be elevated to the presidency were seen as directed against Mnangagwa, as the appointment of Mphoko was part of the conditions of the country’s unity accord which resulted in the post of the second VP being reserved for senior former Zapu officials.

Sources had also previously told the Daily News that it was inevitable that Sandi Moyo and Mahoka would face the boot, after Sandi Moyo shocked the league by allegedly openly declaring her interest in becoming the woman Zanu PF VP, when the women’s quota system kicks in.

In the meantime, political analysts have warned that the sacking of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka would likely further widen fissures in the deeply-divided former liberation movement.

Zanu PF insiders also told the Daily News that the turmoil in the women’s league could see factional re-alignments within the party.

They said the expulsions of Sandi Moyo and Mahoka’s were also likely to further fuel the party’s deadly succession brawls, which had escalated in the last few weeks, especially after Mugabe’s 93rd birthday interview with the ZBC, in which he appeared to slam the door shut on ambitious party bigwigs angling to succeed him.

Analysts have also previously said Mugabe’s failure to resolve Zanu PF’s succession riddle is fuelling the party’s infighting, which is devouring the former liberation movement.

The 93-year-old has studiously refused to name a successor, insisting that the party’s congress has that mandate: to choose a person of their own choice.

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