THE just widowed former first lady Grace Mugabe will come face to face with the military in what is believed to be a tense procession until the late hero is laid to rest.
Former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who was toppled from power through a military intervention believed to have been fuelled by Grace, was declared a national hero and is set to be laid to rest on September 15.
As the funeral processions are set to proceed, Grace will find herself surrounded by the said same military. But for now, let us briefly track her “wars” with the military.
What caused the feud?
The then Emmerson Mnangagw- led faction, together with the G40 led by Grace, joined hands in the build-up to the December 2014 congress and overthrew former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Mnangagwa was appointed Mugabe’s deputy immediately after the ouster of Mujuru, who was accused of plotting to overthrow Mugabe, with Mnangagwa also set to be ousted in the same manner three years later.
The two factions, which had fought from the same corner as they ousted Mujuru, began to quarrel after G40 kingpins approached Mnangagwa to form some sort of ‘power sharing deal’ in the post-Mujuru era.
Mnangagwa, however, rejected their overtures and opted to continue working with his colleagues, a group of older party members who fought in the liberation struggle and top military officials.
A few months after the Mujuru ouster, the two factions found themselves entangled in a vicious fight to strategically position themselves, with G40 courting Sydney Sekeramayi to join as the potential successor.
G40 sought Sekeramayi to lead the faction as they were looking for a big-hitter with liberation war credentials, experience in government and links to State security apparatus, qualities which are critical in succession and power matrixes.
Why the military was a threat?
The late Mugabe publicly confirmed that he used the military to campaign and win elections.
At one point, Mugabe made the then Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander General Constantine Chiwenga stand up at a gathering before thanking him for the role the military played to ensure Zanu PF romped to victory in the 2013 general elections. Mugabe also revealed that he extended Chiwenga and other service chiefs’ contracts in 2009 and afterwards so they could assist Zanu PF win the polls.
This meant whoever had the military on their side was going to win as they control(ed) the politics. This was evidenced by the November 2017 military intervention.
The beginning of the end.
At a rally in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central, Grace began her campaign against military interference in Zanu PF politics as she went on a series of rants and insults aimed at Mnangagwa and the service chiefs.
This campaign was meant to get the attention of Mugabe so he could emasculate the army and make an easy takeover possible as he was the Commander-in-Chief.
The service chiefs were accused of bombing Gushungo Dairy and trying to kill her son, Bellarmine. She accused her political opponents of teaming up with soldiers in perpetuating attacks against her. She took her opportunity at the podium to spell out to Mnangagwa that there was no vacancy at the State House (presidency).
Mugabe roped in
Tensions between Mugabe and ZDF bosses escalated after he attacked them at the Zanu PF annual conference in Victoria Falls in December 2015 for meddling in his succession politics.
In an unexpected charge, Mugabe warned the army, police and intelligence bosses against interfering in Zanu PF’s seemingly inexorable factional and succession wars.
Mugabe met with army commanders in Victoria Falls to discuss the tense situation, only fuelling the already rising tensions within the military and war veteran ranks.
In a bid to manage relations, Grace and the Mugabe family remained almost untouchable until September 6 when Mugabe died, having not met with his successor. It now remains to be seen what will happen in the near future – whether or not vengeance is going to be witnessed.
This led to the demise of Mugabe’s perceived followers as they were later booted out, leaving other G40 members exposed to both prosecution and persecution.
What next now that Mugabe is gone?
After the animosity between Grace and the military, she now has to stand aside and watch as the military takes over to bury Mugabe.
Internal security sources revealed to Zim Morning Post that any funeral of a national hero will be State controlled and this would mean the army taking over proceedings.
So far, Mnangagwa has sent a delegation led by Vice-President Kembo Mohadi to bring the body of the late Mugabe home.
“The body which is expected in the country on Wednesday will go to Manyame Air Base on arrival,” the source said.
“It will later be taken to 1Commando where Doves Funeral Parlour will play its role in preparing the body.
“A funeral parade will be done and the family will decide his final resting place but still the army will bury him and only officials from the rank of Brigadier upwards will carry his body as he was a president.”