Vice President Joice Mujuru's measured response to the recent savage attacks on her by First Lady Grace Mugabe at her weekend graduation party in Mt Darwin has won her high praise from analysts who say this is the way senior Zanu PF officials should behave as the party's factional and succession wars continue to escalate.
This rare compliment for an active Zimbabwean politician from the normally hard-to-please community of local analysts comes amid revelations of emotional, heart-rending scenes that were observed ahead of Zanu PF's tense politburo meeting in Harare on Friday.
Impeccable sources yesterday said many of her supporters, comprising senior Zanu PF members, wept uncontrollably when they met with Mujuru at the party's headquarters before the politburo meeting commenced.
"I've never seen anything like this in my whole life. Politburo members that included grown, battle-hardened men were weeping like children in sympathy with the VP and because of the pain of the persecution that Mai Mujuru is taking at the moment.
"Although I, myself, didn't cry, we all couldn't understand why the VP was being attacked this viciously by her enemies in the party. To add to everyone's pain, the VP herself remained very dignified throughout this emotional period and urged everyone to remain calm and not to worry. It was very sad. The crying was spontaneous and obviously the attacks revived memories of the VP's husband, General Solomon Mujuru whom we all know died mysteriously," one of the sources said.
Although the stage was temptingly ripe for Mujuru to respond in kind, and possibly even hit back with interest to Grace's recent sensational allegations of corruption and incompetence against her, President Robert Mugabe's deputy was calm and collected when she addressed thousands of her supporters from around the country at her graduation party, where she called for unity.
And where her adversaries religiously chanted provocative slogans at Grace's recent rallies such as "Pasi neGamatox" (Down with Gamatox), a loaded statement aimed at rubbishing her and her lieutenants, Mujuru refused to be baited even when her supporters chanted the equally derogatory "Pasi nezvipfukuto" (Down with weevils) slogan in revenge.
Instead, she focused her brief speech on party and national unity, as well as the critical need to support and educate girl children.
This surprised many people, including both her political rivals and analysts — more so as it is understood that her party opponents continue to plot her downfall, by working clandestinely to ensure that all the party's chairpersons who are loyal to her are expelled before Zanu PF's much-anticipated elective congress slated for early December.
Analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Mujuru was behaving honourably because she was "not a novice in politics" and as such knew how issues and differences needed to be raised and dealt with in Zanu PF.
"It is clear that in her lack of wisdom and lack of political maturity, Grace did what even her husband could not do, calling people by their surnames like ‘Kaukonde', ‘Chinotimba' etc. That's the height of disrespect", he said.
"In Zanu PF you say ‘Cde Chinotimba', which is what Mugabe says. Grace even levelled allegations against Mujuru she had no proof of, some of which border on criminal defamation. Grace brought her husband and Zanu PF into disrepute, and Mujuru was wise to see that and not do likewise," he added.
Saungweme said Mujuru had handled the conflict "quite well, in a very mature manner".
"Now it's Grace who has egg on the face. She created a problem for her husband and Oppah (Muchinguri) who now cannot handle the allegations and the way they were carelessly raised.
"It is difficult to see how Oppah can table in the politburo the nonsense Grace was spewing. It's now poor Oppah who must now sanitise Grace's nakedness through a report she has to table in the politburo this week.
"The whole thing shows that Grace still has a lot to learn from tested politicians like Mujuru and the earlier she does that the better. Otherwise she does not have a promising political career," Saungweme said.
Dewa Mavhinga also said Mujuru had demonstrated that she was "a seasoned and mature politician who responded with words of wisdom to unwarranted, childish, and vitriolic attacks from first lady Grace Mugabe".
"If there is any substance in the corruption allegations that Grace levelled against the VP, she must make a police report and not make it a political rally slogan. Grace Mugabe's use of hate speech against political leaders, opponents and journalists must be roundly condemned as it might incite political violence and trigger general pandemonium and chaos in the country.
"Zimbabweans expect the first lady to be a unifying figure who preaches unity, peace and reconciliation and not a factional leader who divides the nation," Mavhinga added.
University of Kent lecturer Alex Magaisa said his assessment was that Mujuru's weekend response had been "very mature".
"She has held back from attacking and instead, has chosen to occupy the higher moral ground. She presents herself as a unifier, a humble character who admits to weaknesses that afflict all human beings. She has refused to stoop low, to the levels to which Grace Mugabe wants her.
"Mujuru (probably) knows she doesn't have to do that fight. Her
lieutenants will do the dirty work and she has rightly judged that she doesn't have to be dragged into a cat-fight with Grace. She wants to reassure Mugabe that his family will be safe with her, hence the tone of her measured statements, which are directed at her boss.
"She knows that one of her boss' greatest fears, which her rivals are using in their fight, is the fate of his family after he is gone. So instead of being inflammatory, she has chosen to be motherly, to be a protector. I think she has been well-advised and has come out well despite the media's attempts to paint her as if she is attacking Grace Mugabe," Magaisa said.
In the battle to succeed Mugabe, Mujuru and Justice minister Emerson Mnangagwa reportedly lead rival camps that are hoping to take over once Mugabe leaves office.