Grace Mugabe : No sacred cows in politics

The hullabaloo at Zimbabwe’s very foundation, The Great Zimbabwe Monuments, has come and gone. This annual shindig punctuated with obnoxious opulence, just like the one held in December at Victoria Falls, hardly brings anything new or exciting to the nation. The magnitude and euphoria associated with these parties far outweigh the national benefit, if any.

First Lady Grace Mugabe at a rally in Mazowe

First Lady Grace Mugabe at a rally in Mazowe

A day after the big party, a number of people when confronted with “Tiudzei, ndimika maiveko – tell us, you were there”. The most consistent response was “ Takanzi musatuka mai – we were ordered not to insult the First Lady”.

One thing fascinating about Zimbabweans is that they can create a joke or light moments out of any situation, no matter how difficult or sad. In a subtle way, they will be making a mockery of somebody. For a whole President of a terribly starving nation to stand before a bumper crowd and talk at length only to be remembered for ordering people not to insult or abuse his wife, sounds comical!

Given that it was a youth event, a detailed report on the success of ZimAsset especially with regards to creation of the promised 2.2 million jobs, revival of closed industries particularly in Bulawayo where a government minister told us not long ago that things were getting back to normal as well as some commitment on educational support for struggling families, would have made perfect sense to young minds. Our youths need the assurance that there is some future for them. Instead, the President used the occasion to incite sympathetic youths to his wife’s dangerous ambition against those believed to be against it.

President Mugabe and his wife probably need to be reminded that there is a world of difference between Grace Mugabe the First Lady and Grace Mugabe the presidential aspirant or at least political beast. Not long ago, Hillary Clinton enjoyed the comfort, privileges and respect of being the First Lady of America when Bill Clinton was the President. As we speak, the tables have turned. Hillary is fighting it out for the presidency on her own, taking all the punches and throwing some heavy ones in the process. She knows that the game has changed and so must she. Hillary the First Lady and Hillary the politician and presidential contestant are two different people.

Grace Mugabe should know that there are no sacred cows in politics. In this regard, she only has one of two choices; to retreat to the comfort of State House and resume her motherly duties while quietly enjoying international shopping in exotic boutiques or be a political mad dog and continue to expose herself, in the process losing or gaining respect. Nothing is guaranteed. By the way, respect is earned not demanded. If a First Lady gets carried away by the microphone and behaves as if there is no tomorrow, people have no choice but to reciprocate. What’s good for the goose must surely be good for the gander.

Children usually learn their first words from parents, especially their mother. If they grow up in an environment where the mother is abusive and always shouting obscenities, that’s exactly what they will emulate. Oliver Mtukudzi called it Mbodza. Grace has been gallivanting across the country shouting despicable words in front of school kids forced to attend her disastrous rallies. The obscenities and diatribe she bombarded Joice Mujuru with are still fresh in our minds.

How would she feel if an innocent pupil asked her parents after the Chiweshe rally “Chii chinonzi hure? Ndanzwa First Lady vachiti handisi hure raMugabe?” There has to be a difference between the language used at baby showers and that used by national leaders in front of world cameras. It gets worse with social media.

If I were to give any advice to President Mugabe, it would be that he should expend his last energy grooming and coaching his wife so she can be a better public speaker. So far, her performance has been horrendous, unmotherly and unAfrican. Generally, Zimbabweans are very respectful people but they don’t need to be pushed to the wall, especially by those who should know better. President Mugabe and his wife should not worry about a speck in the nation’s eye while they ignore a log in their own. Insults that the president moaned about have their origin at State House.

Not long ago, a Vice President proclaimed that the next president will not be a Karanga. This was said in Grace’s presence. While Emmerson Mnangagwa is an aloof politician who enjoys little support even amongst his own people, attacking him based on tribe is insulting all Karangas, that’s stooping to dangerous levels. True, Phelekezela Mphoko’s incompetence is legendary but that has nothing to do with his Ndebele originality. Mugabe did not make any reference to this because his wife is a beneficiary of Mphoko’s sycophancy. So much for virtue!

Still on Great Zimbabwe; instead of ZANU PF youths clamouring for Gushungo or Youth Day, it would have been appropriate if Pupurai Togarepi, the youth chairman, had presented the president with a lifetime gift, a walking stick. Masvingo is endowed with Mupangara and Mupani trees, species that are perfect for high quality timber. Presidential stumbles are now a national embarrassment, not talking about gaffes. Something must be done to help, no matter how small.

Kamuzu Banda, Joshua Nkomo, Nelson Mandela and other leaders used walking aids yet nobody laughed at them. In Father Zimbabwe’s case, it was for most of his adult life but he remains one of our greatest heroes. As for the proposed holiday, who cares if Mugabe or Youth Day runs from the first day of January to the last of December? With more than 90% unemployment, isn’t it a holiday everyday, anyway? Call it whatever you wish.

Zimbabweans are mostly concerned about how and when ZANU PF is going to fix the economy. The soporific sanctions rhetoric and piecemeal actions like temporary suspension of state-sponsored looting at Marange diamond fields are not the answer. If the government does not have short memory, it will remember that Tendai Biti once lost his voice complaining about illicit diamond deals and lack of inflows to treasury. Joice Mujuru also complained that there was nothing to show that Zimbabwe had diamonds. Time has come for ZANU PF and Mugabe to tell the nation the whole truth about our diamonds. This is certainly more important than ordering the nation to stop criticising a First Lady who has evidently lost her way. Grace has herself to blame. Either she is a politician or a First Lady, she can’t enjoy the best of both worlds.

Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim Secretary General for ZUNDE. You may contact him at [email protected] or [email protected]

Post published in: Featured

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *