Friday's much-anticipated politburo meeting ended in the dark and with a whimper, as expectations Vice President Joice Mujuru would be put under severe pressure or even be sacked, as vociferously demanded by First Lady Grace Mugabe did not materialise.

In fact, it emerged that the Grace/Mujuru hot potato was never discussed in full after party bigwigs asked outgoing women's league boss Oppah Muchinguri to furnish the politburo with reports of the controversial rallies addressed by the First Lady.

Muchinguri, who was reportedly taken aback by demands for a comprehensive report on what transpired during Grace's controversial "Meet the People" tour, requested for more time and will now present the report on Wednesday.

According to highly-placed sources, Muchinguri asked for more time but had been told in advance that she needed to prepare the report.

An unexpected power blackout disrupted the meeting forcing Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu PF secretary for information, to conduct a hastily-convened media conference in the dark.

Gumbo provided little detail about the highly-anticipated politburo showdown, playing down its proceedings as "nothing out of the ordinary".

"We were supposed to get a report from the women's league secretary Oppah Muchinguri. She didn't and requested that she gives her report next week.

"She will give a report and we will debate it," Gumbo said, adding "we didn't discuss anything regarding that (the current burning controversies)".

Although Gumbo claimed that everyone was "happy" and "relaxed", he did admit that the politburo was "eagerly awaiting" the Muchinguri report — hinting at the Grace/Mujuru debacle.

"We were looking at preparations for the congress and Cde SK Moyo had his report and everything seems to be on course. We also looked at the venue, we looked at the dates and the dates have been changed.

"Our congress will (now) start on the 2nd and end on the 7th of December. We looked at the theme of the congress, accelerated implementation of ZimAsset. Those are the main things that we discussed," Gumbo added.

However, insiders said last night that the Mujuru camp was pushing for Muchinguri to explain circumstances surrounding the "divisive rallies" where Grace has accused Mujuru of being corrupt and a leader of factionalism.

Ahead of the politburo meeting, a surprisingly jovial President Robert Mugabe turned up at the party headquarters amid growing concerns that Zanu PF could be headed for a violent split, as rival factions jostle to install their candidates to succeed the long-ruling nonagenarian.

On entering the venue, Mugabe jokingly asked Muchinguri — one of the key backers of Grace — whether she would be able to contain the raging fire that she had ignited in the party by stepping down from her party position for the First Lady.

"Ndimi makatanga moto uyu. Muchagona here kuudzimura (you are the ones who started this fire, will you be able to contain it)," Mugabe asked jovially as he greeted Muchinguri — a cunning manoeuvre that was probably meant to lighten the mood and ease tensions.

Muchinguri is handing over her women's league position to Grace. In the past few weeks, the two women have traversed the length and breadth of the country holding their so-called "Meet the People" rallies.

Mugabe also greeted Information minister Jonathan Moyo saying "sizakhuluma" (we will talk), apparently wary of saying much more in the presence of the gathered journalists.

Friday's meeting took place in the wake of Grace ratcheting up her attacks on Mujuru on Thursday.

Against all expectations that common sense would prevail, and that she would endeavour to control her emotions ahead of Friday's do-or-die meeting, after weeks of heightened tension in the party that she is partly responsible for, she went berserk at her meeting with mainly war collaborators and youths at her Mazowe business hub.

She lashed out even more fiercely at all her perceived enemies including the embattled Mujuru and Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde.

For the very first time since she launched her controversial and divisive "Meet the People" tour a fortnight ago, she roundly slated Mujuru, mentioning the beleaguered widow by name.

"Today is the day for (the) final push. I'm no longer going to beat about the bush any longer. The moment of truth has arrived. Mujuru should go and rest because she has failed," she said.

"It really hurts to be fired. It is better for Mujuru to resign. She should resign and go to farm tobacco and look after grandchildren. Mujuru needs to go because enough is enough. The party will look for a replacement because we have a lot of women who are capable of filing that vacancy. She has no brains, no wisdom and no principles. Can a person who wants to lead a country be an extortionist, bribe taker and have no principles?" Grace asked.

Also for the first time, the feisty first lady appeared to show her hand when she called on Zimbabweans to "respect" Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom she said had done "the honourable thing" and let Mujuru take the post, although he had been voted by eight provinces to be VP a decade ago.

"Mnangagwa is a man of honour," she said.

"In 2004, he had the backing of eight provinces to become vice president. But when the president said that position was now reserved for a woman, Mnangagwa respected the decision despite having popular support. He never left the party in protest to form his own party because he respects Mugabe."

Breaking News via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to our website and receive notifications of Breaking News by email.