Any doubt about who really rules Zimbabwe was erased by the outcome of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party congress held in November. President Robert Mugabe is still nominally in charge. First Lady Grace Mugabe has emerged as the power that shapes the throne.
Over the years, President Mugabe has rendered the once strong rival opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) completely ineffective as the opposition lost popular support and splintered into factions. Its former leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, once beloved by some powerful foreign governments and many people at home, no longer holds sway over even his peers. Tsvangirai, who in the 2008 presidential elections led the party to a first round win over ZANU-PF, was co-opted into a unity government as prime minister by Mugabe and then jettisoned once the old man regained full control.
Before the party congress the only thing that stood between Mugabe and life presidency was a decision of his own party. The congress removed any such obstacle, if it ever existed, and added more powers to Mugabe’s authority. As things stand, the president has made sure that even if the natural order of old age renders him mentally incapable of making decisions, Grace Mugabe, 49, will help him carry on.