President Robert Mugabe emerged a stronger and more sure leader of his party and government from the party’s week long congress which was held in Zimbabwe. The party’s first vice president, Joice Mujuru, who has also been the only vice president of the country for some time since the death of John Nkomo, has completely been shunned from the party and failed to attend the congress. In addition, the president’s wife, Dr Grace Mugabe, has been confirmed at the congress as the secretary for women’s affairs, a position that assures her of a place on the ZANU PF Politburo, the highest decision making body in the Zimbabwean ruling party. Furthermore, the president himself was confirmed as the party’s next presidential candidate.
Problems for Vice President, Joice Mujuru started when the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe, was requested by some members of women’s league to lead them. This happened on Grace Mugabe’s farm in Mazoe and it was with blessing of the outgoing secretary for the women’s affairs, Oppah Muchinguri. Mrs Mugabe did not just accept the nomination but went on a whirlwind tour of the country in what was termed the “meet the people tour”. What started as a simple campaign turned ugly as she levelled accusation after accusation on Joice Mujuru for what she called plotting to kill her 90 year old husband. This culminated in Mujuru, who lost her husband in a suspicious fire a few years back, being slowly elbowed out of the party and consequently out of the succession race to replace Mugabe. This resulted in Mujuru not attending the congress, much to the chagrin of the nonagenarian leader who has ruled the land locked country for the past thirty years since independence from Britain in 1980. Mugabe said he had wanted his deputy to be present at the congress in order to answer the charges that were being levelled against her.
Another feather in the Mugabes’ hat is the confirmation of Dr Grace Mugabe as the secretary of the Women’s’ League at the congress. This means that she automatically takes up a position on the party’s top decision making body, the Politburo and will therefore be able to contribute to policy formulation in the party and, by default, the country. In addition, as is being speculated in some quarters, the appointment of Dr Mugabe to the Politiburo is a step closer to making her the next president. In addition, the President was confirmed as the party’s next presidential candidate. This means that anybody with an interest in the debate about who will succeed Mugabe will have to wait until 2018.