November 20, 2015 / 9:14 AM / 2 years ago

Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe says has no presidential ambitions

Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe tours the venue for party ZANU PF's elective congress in Harare December 2, 2014.Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe told thousands of ruling party supporters on Thursday that she had no ambitions to be president, although analysts believe she remains a strong candidate to succeed her husband.

Grace, a former typist in President Robert Mugabe's office before they married, was hoisted into the top echelons of ZANU-PF last December after attacking former vice president Joice Mujuru, who was later fired by the veteran leader.

"People are suffering while we are fighting for positions," Grace Mugabe told supporters in the Harare township of Mbare, the Herald newspaper reported.

"I am standing here as the wife of our President and as someone whom you chose to lead the women. I am ending here and I don't need an other position."

Despite being one of only two sworn-in senior members ZANU-PF, Grace Mugabe may not be able to rally the widespread support needed to lead the ruling party without the protection of her husband, analysts say.

Grace Mugabe played no significant role in the 1970s liberation struggle against white colonial rule, often viewed as a pre-requisite for any ZANU-PF leader.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a hardline Mugabe loyalist known as 'The Crocodile', in September cemented his status as heir to Mugabe after getting close allies appointed to important cabinet posts and securing the tasks of reforming the economy and legal system.

Robert Mugabe is the only leader his country has known since independence from Britain in 1980.

Writing by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Joe Brock

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