Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe has appointed First Lady Grace Mugabe to a top post within his ruling party – Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF).
According to reports, Grace was named as a member of a key committee that would be responsible for overseeing the running of the country’s general elections in 2018.
The five-member committee, which was commissioned last week is named the Elections Directorate. It is saddled with the responsibility of crafting the elections strategy – from national identity cards acquisition, voter registration, resource mobilization, manifesto drafting, campaign messages, and program – to candidate selection and primary election rules, as well as the actual campaign program.
The Elections Directorate is chaired by Zimbabwe’s Local Government Minister Savior Kasukuwere. Other members are Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo and Zanu PF Youth League secretary Kudzanai Chipanga. Following its commission, the committee has since established five working subcommittees that will help in ensuring a smooth general election in 2018.
These sub-committees are management, Research, Finance and Logistics, Security and legal affairs. The management sub-committee is chaired by Kasukuwere, while Jonathan Moyo is the head of research. Finance and Logistics is headed by Obert Mpofu, Security is chaired by Comrade Kembo Mohadi while Legal Affairs is chaired by Chinamasa.
All the members of the Elections Directorate are said to be supporters of Grace Mugabe’s presidential campaign. The group calls itself “Generation 40” and is a fierce rival to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s presidential supporters team, known as “Team Lacoste”.
Meanwhile, there are fears that Grace Mugabe, who is seen as a potential successor to her husband, might use the opportunity to reject applications of aspirants who are not members of the “Generations 40” within the Zanu-PF. Over three years, speculation about who should lead Zanu-PF after Mugabe has intensified within the ruling party.
Grace, who leads Zanu-PF’s women league has been headlining her own political rallies since 2014. She is also seen as a big threat to Vice President Mnangagwa’s presidential ambition.
Recently, Zimbabwean media reported that the First Lady challenged her husband to name his successor in order to put an end to the deepening divisions in Zanu-PF party. In response, Mugabe reportedly insisted that Zanu-PF, and not him, should choose his successor.
President Robert Mugabe would be standing for Zimbabwe’s presidential position in the 2018 election. If he wins, the oldest African leader will be 99-year-old, by the time he would have completed a full five-year term.