Of hip-swinging mapostori, Grace's cheek kiss

HARARE - Known for their reserved nature, apostolic sect women were swinging their hips to sungura maestro Aleck Macheso’s tunes yesterday, as Zimbabweans showed rare unity to commemorate the country’s 33rd independence anniversary.

Donning snow-white long dresses and headgear, the women grabbed the spotlight with their near perfect imitation of Macheso’s Chikopokopo dance in bays 17 and 18 of the giant National Sports Stadium.

Mbare Chimurenga Choir, joined by Zanu PF MPs and party women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri, took over the hip-swinging show when President Robert Mugabe entered the stadium to wild cheers.

Then came time for Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to introduce Mugabe.

The former university lecturer and now a rich government minister showered praise on Mugabe.

“The president is an epitome of dedication to public office, an indomitable and erudite leader whose intellect has mesmerised both his supporters and opponents,” Chombo gushed, in a show which should have left chief praise singer Information minister Webster Shamu green with envy.

Looking fit for an 89-year-old, Mugabe picked up on Chombo’s hymn and narrated Zimbabwe’s “achievements” under his rule.

An often violent land reform programme and the controversial takeover of foreign-owned firms under an election related “empowerment” programme were the pick of the “achievements”.

But maybe this was too much talk for the young boys and girls who were part of the act which passes the independence flame to Mugabe.

Wearing cheap white shorts and t-shirts, they seemed disinterested and their faces betrayed a hungry lot.

Mugabe, on the other hand, was in a merry mood.

A teetotaller, Mugabe called on women to give their husbands a few dollars “for Chibuku”, before warning against irresponsible drinking.

And, as Mugabe walked back to his seat, First Lady Grace, elegantly dressed as usual, was on hand to give the former guerrilla leader a cheek kiss — softly brushing her lips across the president’s cheek in a public show of affection that went down well with the peace message he had just delivered.

Watched by a 60 000-plus crowd, the octogenarian could only blush. - Wendy Muperi

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