FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe yesterday reacted angrily when Zanu PF supporters in Bulawayo walked out on her “Meet the People Tour” at Amazulu Sports Club before she had finished addressing them and threatened to withhold her seed donations if the walkout continued.
This was after dozens of fatigued female party supporters started marching out after spending more than half the day standing in the sun and on empty stomachs while waiting for the event to end.
“You are disorganised, Bulawayo. This is disrespectful. We are about to finish. Sit down, where are those women going? Anyone who doesn’t sit down will not receive the farming inputs I brought,” she said in annoyance.
“If you stand up while I am speaking, you are inferring that I am speaking nonsense,” said an upset Grace at the continued walkout.
“I love you, women, and I mean it, yet you walk out while I speak.”
As she raged on, sections of the crowd cheered her and this just seemed to spur her on and added fuel to her fury.
“It’s unfair. Come back and sit down. It’s Gamatox spirit. I do not lead fools. You think I am fool? If you stand up when Amai is speaking, you are showing that what I am saying does not make sense. I love you, women.”
Bulawayo has not been a favourable hunting ground for Zanu PF as it has remained an MDC-T stronghold since 2000 despite the high turnouts at the ruling party’s campaign rallies.
“But here in Bulawayo, Bulawayo, Bulawayo, what’s wrong with Bulawayo? We came here at White City Stadium [during 2013 election campaigns] and the leadership of the party promised the President [Robert Mugabe] that they have done their homework and will sweep all the seats,” she said.
“We left very happy. But the results amazed us. The Bulawayo leadership is not showing unity of purpose. Whether you like it or not, there is factionalism.”
Grace ranted against factionalism and chastised the party’s regional leadership for engaging in nasty leadership fights.
She said if there was unity of purpose in Matabeleland, there would not be five candidates vying for the post of Second Vice-President.
Grace said those that had declared their interest in the top post had no respect for each other.
Ministers Simon Khaya Moyo and Kembo Mohadi, Senator Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, Zapu stalwart Ambassador Phekezela Mphoko and former Zipra commander, ex-minister Ambrose Mutinhiri, have shown interest in the post, left vacant after the death of Vice-President John Nkomo in 2012.
Grace charged that some of the candidates, whom she did not name, had no leadership qualities to the extent that they could not even tend to vegetable gardens in their backyards.
“If there was unity of purpose, I would not be hearing five names of people vying for a post,” she said.
“If you want a position, first consult others, but those after the post are now using their current party positions to bulldoze. We understand that you fought during the liberation struggle, but that does not mean you have qualities for most things. Not all of us can be in leadership positions.”
Whenever she railed against factionalism, Zanu PF youths would chant “Gamatox”.
Some Zanu PF youths came to the rally clad in T-shirts inscribed “Phansi leGamatox” in apparent reference to a Zanu PF faction reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru, in the bitter succession battle to succeed Mugabe.
Others carried Mazoe Orange Crush bottles and wore T-shirts written “Feel Mazoe Crush”.
Grace received the endorsement to lead the Women’s League at her Mazowe Orphanage Home in Mashonaland Central Province where she was mandated to “crush” factionalism.
The reference to Mazoe Orange Crush could be a witticism, referring to the popular fruit juice and Grace’s new-found role to crush factionalism in Zanu PF.
“If you don’t heed my advice on factionalism, be warned this will be your end,” she warned.
“Down with Gamatox,” said the youths, urging top party officials to also chant the same slogan while they were being introduced.
The derogatory term was first used by the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa in June this year while calling for the removal of party members bent on destroying Zanu PF from within.
Mutasa then was urging Mugabe to “apply Gamatox”, the trade name of a powerful pesticide, to rid the party of “weevils” that had infiltrated it.
Mugabe had branded Information minister Jonathan Moyo a weevil.
At yesterday’s rally, even those considered to be part of the weevils also joined the “Gamatox” chorus, apparently to save their skin.
The First Lady, who has so far held similar campaign rallies in eight provinces, also accused top party officials of failing to emulate Mugabe’s “good leadership qualities” despite spending most of their time in meetings with the 90-year-old veteran leader – Newsday.