Zimbabwe MP accused of insulting first lady

Wednesday December 16 2015

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accompanied by his wife Grace Mugabe, raises his fist as he greets the crowd at his inauguration ceremony at the National Stadium in Harare on August 22, 2013. A ruling party MP in Zimbabwe has been charged with making insulting remarks about First Lady Grace Mugabe in an incident seen as part of internal party wrangling over who should succeed President Robert Mugabe. PHOTO | ALEXANDER JOE |

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accompanied by his wife Grace Mugabe, raises his fist as he greets the crowd at his inauguration ceremony at the National Stadium in Harare on August 22, 2013. A ruling party MP in Zimbabwe has been charged with making insulting remarks about First Lady Grace Mugabe in an incident seen as part of internal party wrangling over who should succeed President Robert Mugabe. PHOTO | ALEXANDER JOE | AFP

By BBC
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HARARE, Tuesday

A ruling party MP in Zimbabwe has been charged with making insulting remarks about First Lady Grace Mugabe.

Mr Justice Wadyajena is accused of using abusive language against a fellow Zanu-PF party member who had a portrait of Mrs Mugabe on his car.

The incident is being seen as part of internal party wrangles over who should succeed President Robert Mugabe.

Two camps have emerged; one backing Grace Mugabe and the other the 91-year-old leader’s deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Wadyajena is reported to be loyal to Vice-President Mnangagwa while the man he argued with, Jimayi Muduvuri, supports Mrs Mugabe.

Both men were attending the party’s recent conference in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

FACTIONALISM

On Friday, Mr Mugabe told the conference that factionalism within Zanu-PF was destructive and warned the country’s security forces to stay away from politics.

But the infighting appears to be worsening.

Wadyajena was quoted in court papers as having told Muduvuri: “You are a fool, as well as that ‘mother’ of yours.”

The first lady is referred to as “amai”, meaning mother, by supporters of Zanu-PF.

The MP was granted $800 (Sh80,000) bail and is expected to go on trial on January 5, 2016.

Mrs Mugabe held rallies across the country ahead of the conference, which many have seen as a sign of political ambitions.

The 50-year-old first lady took over the ruling party’s women’s league last year after spearheading the expulsion of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her supporters from Zanu-PF.

Mr Mnangagwa, 69, is a veteran of the independence struggle and Zanu-PF and also served as the country’s spymaster in the 1980s.