The rise of Mrs Mugabe: Dictator's wife named head of ruling party's women's league and tipped for presidency

Grace Mugabe is well positioned to establish a dynasty by succeeding her elderly husband as Zimbabwe’s president
  • @zdboren

The controversial wife of Robert Mugabe has entered mainstream Zimbabwean politics, and appears a contender to succeed the 90-year-old as president.

Grace Mugabe, announced last week as leader of the ZANU PF women’s league, will take her place in the ruling party’s politburo following its congress in December, but she is already indicating the extent of her ambitions.

“The time has come to show people what I am made of,” the 49-year-old declared to a crowd of thousands in Mazone, according to the Zimbabwe Standard.

She warned those who oppose her not to “play with fire”.

She said of those trying to remove the elder Mugabe from power: “People should learn to wait for their time. Patience pays. Here I am, I had never dreamed of entering politics but you have approached me and I am ready to go.”

Mrs Mugabe, who was a secretary before she married the president in 1996,  was unanimously chosen by female party members to lead the ZANU PF women’s league, with Zimbabwe’s Newsday newspaper claiming the women “fell over themselves” to endorse Mrs Mugabe.

Known for her European shopping sprees, and the consequent EU sanctions placed on her in 2002, Mrs Mugabe remains a controversial figure.

She also lacks the supposedly prerequisite military background, with an analyst in Harare telling Deutsche Welle: “Whoever wants to occupy that office without war credentials is not possible, and Grace Mugabe does not have war credentials.”

One of her key rivals for the presidency is Vice-President Joice Mujuru is famous for allegedly shooting down a helicopter with a machine gun during the Rhodesian Bush War.

Despite this, there is every chance that when Mr Mugabe dies or leaves office, a Mugabe will continue to lead Zimbabwe, with MP Tendai Biti telling The Telegraph: “Grace Mugabe will be the next president of Zanu PF when Mugabe goes.”