Zanu-PF confirms Grace Mugabe as women’s head

2014-12-06 17:38

Harare – Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has confirmed President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, as the new head of its women’s wing at a congress today.

This underlines her swift political rise in the troubled southern African country.

Grace Mugabe’s appointment today, approved by acclamation to the resounding cheers of 12?000 delegates in a parade ground in central Harare, gives her a seat on the ruling party’s top decision-making Politburo.

Over the past three months, the 49-year-old first lady has carried out a campaign against Vice-President Joice Mujuru. Until recently Mujuru was a leading contender in a behind-the-scenes battle to succeed Zimbabwe’s 90-year-old leader.

Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, openly denounced Mujuru when he opened the congress on Thursday, accusing her of leading a group within the ruling party intent on ousting him from power.

Mugabe’s comments appeared to have elbowed Mujuru out of the race to take over from him as both Zanu-PF’s and Zimbabwe’s leader, leaving a seemingly clear path for her rival, Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The infighting in the ruling party has increased uncertainty in a country grappling with an economic meltdown that critics blame on decades of mismanagement by Mugabe.

His controversial policies, including the forcible acquisition of white-owned commercial farms for blacks, have alienated Western donors. They also accuse the veteran leader of rigging elections since 2000 to stay in power.

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