Electronic money exchangers listing
Find Cheap Textbooks - Save on New & Used Textbooks at AbeBooks.com

For Zimbabwe's Mugabes, marriage is political and personal - Christopher Torchia

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe plucked her from the secretarial pool decades ago to become his wife. Now Grace Mugabe is stirring speculation that she wants to succeed her 93-year-old husband as leader.

The power couple's extraordinary arc is deeply felt in this southern African nation. Many are pondering how their dynamic will affect the country, which is in economic decline and political limbo amid uncertainty how a leadership transition will unfold. Many in Zimbabwe have had no other president.

The 51-year-old Grace Mugabe is now her elderly husband's No. 1 protector, helping him when he struggled with a shovel at a recent tree-planting ceremony and declaring that he should run "as a corpse" in next year's election if he dies before the vote.

She has said their relationship is like any other (fights included, both have said). From their statements and body language in public, they seem to have each other's back amid the questions over who will be next in Zimbabwe to hold power.

"I live with him, cook for him, share the table with him and discuss many issues as a family," Grace Mugabe said adoringly to thousands of well-wishers at a birthday celebration for the president last month. "In other words, we share so many intimate discussions together, as many ordinary married couples could do."

A former teacher who studied law and economics in prison during the country's white minority rule, Robert Mugabe has been shrewd, soft-spoken and, to his opponents, ruthless. He is an African nationalist who likes finely tailored suits. Despite his fading vigor, he flies regularly to other countries, including Singapore for medical treatment.

His wife, previously lampooned for shopping expeditions and a doctorate obtained under questionable circumstances, has built a serious if polarizing political profile with charity work and frequent rallies. She has endured harsh criticism - a "prostitute" or a scheming Lady Macbeth, some have said - but has dished her own barbs.

The constitution says the senior of two vice presidents would take office if the president dies, resigns or is removed from power, but Grace Mugabe's feuds with some ruling ZANU-PF party factions have many people doubting that a leadership change would go by the book.

"She's in the mix," said Tom McDonald, a Washington-based lawyer who was U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1997 to 2001. Meanwhile, he said, the relationship serves the political interests of both partners. The frail Robert Mugabe feeds off his wife's vibrancy, while she sponges up stature from his presidential aura.

Mugabe was a leader of the fight against white minority rule in Rhodesia, which became Zimbabwe after independence in 1980, and sparred with the West following its criticism of his land grabs from white farmers and its sanctions against the president, his wife and associates.

At his Feb. 25 birthday celebration, it was Grace Mugabe who blasted Europe and the United States, while her mostly subdued husband mused at times about mortality.

"Our erstwhile colonizers are fighting tooth and nail" to try to sabotage black empowerment programs in Zimbabwe, said Grace Mugabe, head of the women's league of the ruling party. Critics dismiss such arguments, saying the country's problems derive from mismanagement and repression under its longtime ruler.

Grace Mugabe has often talked about how she cares for the president, once telling him that it was time to end a speech. He chuckled, saying that was how she always treats him at home.

Jenni Williams, a human rights activist who has been arrested many times in Zimbabwe, speculated that there is a "political basis" in the relationship between the Mugabes, though she noted that Grace has a "separate, additional role" as the mother of her husband's three children.

"Perhaps the power has shifted from Mugabe to Grace as he has become more and more unwell," Williams said.

The couple had two children while Mugabe's first wife, Sally Hayfron, was ailing from the kidney failure that killed her in 1992. Grace split with her own husband, and her wedding to Mugabe in 1996 was attended by Nelson Mandela and other African leaders.

"What will happen to her when Mugabe is gone is another matter. Right now she is the most powerful, more powerful than Mugabe, I think," said Innocent Lijomeka, a university student in the capital, Harare.

Marian Mutsindikwu, a street vendor selling airtime for mobile phones, said she doesn't have "a problem" with Grace Mugabe.

"The first lady seems charitable," Mutsindikwu said. "However, the greatest gift she can give us is advising the old man to rest."

AP

Read 352 times


Find Weird Books at AbeBooks.com



Most Read

Terms for states as N500b Paris Club refund is ready

Terms for states as N500b Paris Club refund is ready

Another London-Paris Club loan refund (about N500billion) is on the way for states— with fresh hurdles for governors. The Presidency...

How notorious kidnapper, Evans was caught like a chicken

How notorious kidnapper, Evans was caught like a chicken

There was tumultuous ovation and excitement, yesterday, at the Force Headquarters, Kam Salem House, Abuja, and the Police Command, Ikeja,...

#BBNaija: Television as madness - Reuben Abati

#BBNaija: Television as madness - Reuben Abati

What a relief! So, the Big Brother Naija reality television programme is finally over. It ended Sunday evening with 23-year...

Who is the Presidency? - Reuben Abati

Who is the Presidency? - Reuben Abati

When last week, President Muhammadu Buhari decided to suspend the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and...

The two faces of Tuface -Reuben Abati

The two faces of Tuface -Reuben Abati

Tuface’s decision to lead a protest to register the dissatisfaction of Nigerians with the performance of the incumbent administration and...

Seven Nigerians win U.K parliamentary election

Seven Nigerians win U.K parliamentary election

Seven candidates of Nigerian heritage have been elected into the United Kingdom parliament in the election held on Thursday. The...

Dino Melaye: The making of a brand - Reuben Abati

Dino Melaye: The making of a brand - Reuben Abati

// It is a sign of the times, and a tragedy that the most popular Senator in the Nigerian National...

Forget 2016 Mavrodi money, start afresh –MMM Office

Forget 2016 Mavrodi money, start afresh –MMM Office

All hope seems lost for Mavrodi Mondial Movement (MMM) participants, who jubilated when the scheme announced the unfreezing of the...

Amber Rose, feminism and naked self-promotion - Charli Casey

Amber Rose, feminism and naked self-promotion - Charli Casey

As a feminist, it was quite a surprise to see Amber Rose showing the world her lady garden as I...

From London to Abuja in 50 days: Buhari’s return -Reuben Abati

From London to Abuja in 50 days: Buhari’s return -Reuben Abati

The cities of Daura -President Muhammadu Buhari’s home town, Kano - his political base, and Kaduna -where he has a...

WEATHER REPORT

booked.net booked.net booked.net booked.net booked.net booked.net

MORE POSTS