A march organised for First Lady Grace Mugabe by her supporters in Harare yesterday failed to live up to its billing, as it turned into an anti-Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa show, as top Zanu PF officials took turns to lampoon President Robert Mugabe’s deputy.Grace’s allies accused Mnangagwa of plotting to usurp Mugabe’s power.

Curiously, both Grace and Mugabe did not attend the event held at the party’s headquarters, with the veteran politician addressing an educationists’ conference a stone’s throw away from the Zanu PF headquarters.

Shortly after getting into the programme, some supporters bussed from different parts of the country started walking out after realising that Mugabe and his wife were not going to be part of the programme.

Several ministers — including Ignatius Chombo (Home Affairs), Saviour Kasukuwere (Local Government), Nyasha Chikwinya (Women’s Affairs), Sydney Sekeramayi (Defence), Christopher Mushohwe (Information) and Oppah Muchinguri (Environment, Water and Climate) — graced the event, but their presence failed to inspire the restive crowd.

The event was meant to express solidarity with Grace after she had been at the receiving end of bad publicity following allegations that she assaulted 20-year-old South African model, Gabriella Engels in

that country, while there were insinuations that products from her dairy concern could have been responsible for Mnangagwa’s health afflictions.

There were posters denigrating Engels, but speakers chose to use the occasion to berate their rivals in Zanu PF succession politics.

Without mentioning names, speakers said only Mugabe had their blessing to lead the party.

Mnangagwa, still smarting from suspected food poisoning, is alleged to be leading a faction within Zanu PF, commonly known as Team Lacoste, angling to take over from Mugabe.

Speaking in riddles, Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi Chimene said people eat unripe fruit and then claim to have been poisoned when they fall sick, an obvious dig at Mnangagwa, who fell ill at Mugabe’s rally in Gwanda three weeks ago.

“Zanu PF has a straightforward ideology: One leader at a time and President Mugabe at this time,” she said. newsday