They argue that the old man was paralysed by his wife, but she overreached herself.

Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe, 52, is widely seen as vying to replace her 93-year-old husband Robert Mugabe when he dies

The Mugabe dynasty may fall because Zimbabwe’s First Lady, “Gucci Grace” overplayed her political game in her manipulative quest to assume control.

President Robert Mugabe’s blunder of firing his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, last week, has led to a military takeover which, despite the uncertainty and instability, offers a glimmer of hope for a transitional regime change in the country.

And, according to observers, should this occur, millions of Zimbabwean refugees might possibly return home.

“Slowly, Mugabe is becoming very old and senile and, therefore, his wife has been assuming a lot of powers in advising him and directing him in what he should do,” Centre for African Renaissance director and political analyst Shadrack Gutto said.

“Grace pushed things too far. She and her family and close friends who have looted and siphoned the money out of the country, are in dire straits as we move forward.”

Mugabe himself is not an active player, but was being “used and paralysed by his wife”, he said.

“And those who would like her to succeed have been part of the plunder and looting of national resources which they have been hiding abroad. They have ruined the economy.”

Gutto said this decision had been pushed by “Grace’s crazy ideas” in her race to the top.

“Mnangagwa has been with Mugabe since the ’80s, occupying powerful positions in Cabinet. He was in many ways running the regime for a long time.

“Grace overreached herself when she thought she was very powerful, thinking she could remove the pillar that had been holding Mugabe in power.”

Zimbabwe was liberated partly by armed forces and not just negotiations, therefore removing those with armed struggle credentials is seen to be a bad move and led to the takeover, Gutto said.

“But it’s important to underline that the African Union (AU) does not count people who come into power by unconstitutional means. If there is a military coup, Zimbabwe will be suspended from the AU.

“The question is, if they do really overthrow the Mugabe and Zanu-PF regime, will they go back to the ballot to hold free and fair elections? If they don’t, Zimbabwe will be removed from the AU.”

This leaves the country in the same position it is currently, Gutto said.

South Africa should hope “nothing terrible” occurs.

“SA will try to cool the situation because the more there is a crisis in Zimbabwe the more South Africa will suffer the repercussions. The number of refugees or immigrants coming from Zimbabwe will be very large. And SA will not want that. They will have to play a diplomatic role in this crisis.”

Should the Mugabe or Zanu-PF regime come to an end, Gutto said a number of Zimbabweans who fled may return back home.

“Many are hopeful things will change.” Political analyst Daniel Silke said the Mugabe succession fight had destabilised Zimbabwe.

“It has opened the door for a contestation of power which wasn’t there while Mugabe was in power. It shows the support for him was rather thin on the ground.

“So as soon as there was a window of opportunity to move against him and his preferred successor, Grace, it was accomplished with relative ease.

“Clearly Mugabe overplayed his hand completely when he fired Mnangagwa. This was a substantial and critical strategic blunder,” said Silke.

“He perhaps misread his own fragility and that of his wife. He was so isolated or cocooned that he committed this error which unleashed a series of events which he was not prepared for.” – yadhanaj@citizen.co.za

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