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Zimbabwe 1st lady roils political scene with entry

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FILE – In this Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 file photo Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, left, and his wife Grace greet the crowd during birthday marking Mugabe’s 90th birthday, in Marondera, Zimbabwe. She has expensive tastes, owns a lot of land in Zimbabwe and is now entering politics, a move that is roiling this southern African nation that has known only one leader since independence: President Robert Mugabe, who is 90 years old. The newcomer is Mugabe’s 49-year-old wife Grace, who accepted a nomination last month to lead the ruling party’s women’s wing, triggering accusations that Mugabe aims to set a political dynasty in place. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

FILE – In this Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 file photo Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, left, and his wife Grace greet the crowd during birthday marking Mugabe’s 90th birthday, in Marondera, Zimbabwe. She has expensive tastes, owns a lot of land in Zimbabwe and is now entering politics, a move that is roiling this southern African nation that has known only one leader since independence: President Robert Mugabe, who is 90 years old. The newcomer is Mugabe’s 49-year-old wife Grace, who accepted a nomination last month to lead the ruling party’s women’s wing, triggering accusations that Mugabe aims to set a political dynasty in place. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

FILE – In this Saturday, May 24, 2014 file photo Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, left, and his wife, Grace, right, arrive for the inauguration ceremony for president Jacob Zuma, in Pretoria, South Africa. She has expensive tastes, owns a lot of land in Zimbabwe and is now entering politics, a move that is roiling this southern African nation that has known only one leader since independence: President Robert Mugabe, who is 90 years old. The newcomer is Mugabe’s 49-year-old wife Grace, who accepted a nomination last month to lead the ruling party’s women’s wing, triggering accusations that Mugabe aims to set a political dynasty in place. (AP Photo/Ihsaan Haffejee, Pool, File)

FILE – In this Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 file photo Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, left, is seen with his wife Grace, right, at state house in Harare. She has expensive tastes, owns a lot of land in Zimbabwe and is now entering politics, a move that is roiling this southern African nation that has known only one leader since independence: President Robert Mugabe, who is 90 years old. The newcomer is Mugabe’s 49-year-old wife Grace, who accepted a nomination last month to lead the ruling party’s women’s wing, triggering accusations that Mugabe aims to set a political dynasty in place. (AP Photo, File)

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HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — She has expensive tastes, owns a lot of land in Zimbabwe and is now entering politics, a move that is roiling this southern African nation that has known only one leader since independence: President Robert Mugabe, who is 90 years old.

The newcomer is Mugabe’s 49-year-old wife Grace, who accepted a nomination last month to lead the ruling party’s women’s wing, triggering accusations that Mugabe aims to set a political dynasty in place. Her nomination has already caused infighting in the ZANU-PF ruling party, with some claiming they’ve been intimidated.

The ZANU-PF Women’s League said they hope Mrs. Mugabe can advance women’s issues and help heal factionalism because she has “the president’s ear.”

But, like her husband, Mrs. Mugabe has a knack for giving speeches with fiery and hostile language.

In July, during her acceptance speech for the ZANU-PF post, she all but threatened the deputy justice minister and parliament member Fortune Chasi who, she said, has frustrated her efforts to acquire more land and a conservancy near her farm that is an animal sanctuary with gold reserves, where some villagers now live and pan for gold.

“I might have a small fist but when it comes to fighting I will put stones inside to enlarge it, or even put on gloves to make it bigger. Do not doubt my capabilities,” Mrs. Mugabe told thousands of women who were bussed from across the country to her farm in the Mazowe area northwest of Harare.

Mugabe, who has ruled since 1980 and won re-election in a disputed poll in July 2013, has already accepted a proposal by the women’s wing to be the party’s candidate for the 2018 election. He will be 94 by then. Politicians have been jockeying for position to succeed him.

Once a secretary in Mugabe’s office, Mrs. Mugabe rose to prominence after news broke that she had a child with Mugabe while his first wife, Sally, lay bedridden due to a kidney ailment. Sally, a Ghanaian, died in 1992 from kidney failure. Mugabe has since said Sally knew and approved of Mrs. Mugabe since they were childless and he wanted children.

After a Catholic wedding in 1996, Mrs. Mugabe made headlines for alleged expensive shopping trips, a fiery temper and the acquisition of huge tracts of land under Mugabe’s controversial land reform program. The couple has three children, and Mrs. Mugabe has another son from an earlier marriage to a retired air force officer.

She joined Mugabe on the political campaign trail in 2008 after he lost the first round of voting to opposition leader and main rival Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe won the subsequent runoff.

Last year during the election campaign she attracted attention for comments such as describing Tsvangirai as ugly.

Rival factions have recently begun openly attacked each other’s credentials.

Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa — both veterans of the country’s 1970s liberation war — have been long-time front runners to replace Mugabe.

A member of the ZANU-PF Youth League from Harare lodged a police report over the weekend, alleging he had been assaulted by fellow party members for backing Mrs. Mugabe. On Monday, Mugabe’s close nephew and ZANU-PF politician Patrick Zhuwawo claimed there was a plot to “push” Mrs. Mugabe from Harare by disgruntled party members who want to “relegate the First Family to the Zvimba (Mugabe’s

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