Former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has said First Lady Grace Mugabe is not yet ripe to become President, as she is still a political novice.
Mutambara, who served as Deputy Prime Minister in the inclusive government between 2009 and 2013, took potshots at Grace, describing her as a political upstart at the launch of his autobiography, In Search of the Elusive Zimbabwean Dream — An Autobiography of Thought Leadership, Vol 1, in Harare on Wednesday.
He said his tenure as Deputy Prime Minister in the inclusive government had given him intricate knowledge about leading figures in the Zanu PF succession matrix.
Mutambara aimed barbs at Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, among others, whom he said he supervised during his tenure.
“I supervised Mnangagwa and Sekeramayi when I was Deputy Prime Minister. I took care of them,” he said.
“I have good insight in terms of their abilities and I can sit and do a seminar on these two to see whether they are capable of being President.”
Mutambara also cast aspersions on Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni, whom he said was not ready for leadership of the country.
“That one,” he said pointing at Grace’s portrait, “we did not supervise and it means she is not yet ready.”
Grace presently leads the Zanu PF women’s league and has, in the past, declared that there was nothing stopping her from succeeding her husband, President Robert Mugabe.
Zanu PF is currently grappling with a fierce internal power struggle, as senior figures position themselves to take over from Mugabe.
Mnangagwa, for years seen as the frontrunner, remains in the picture, while Sekeramayi has emerged as a dark horse in the presidential race after his name was recently dropped into the ring by Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
Mugabe has been accused of seeking to create a dynasty by clandestinely positioning his wife and members of his family in strategic positions for eventual takeover.
Mutambara, who led the University of Zimbabwe students’ movement as president in the early 1980s, chronicled his clashes with Mugabe, saying students blazed the democratic trail in Zimbabwe.
“Initially, we supported Zanu PF’s one-party State ideology, but we later changed after realising that these guys were looting,” he said.
“So the students were the real revolutionaries, and the workers, led by then ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions) secretary-general (Morgan) Tsvangirai, supported us.
“The workers were cheerleaders at the time. We might be their cheerleaders now, but history will record that they were back then.”
Mutambara said Tsvangirai was arrested after he wrote a letter in support of arrested student leaders, who included the former Deputy Prime Minister, in October 1988, reinforcing that the students led the struggle.
“Tsvangirai joined the democratic struggle through supporting the students,” Mutambara said.