Mugabe my only boss: First Lady

 

HARARE - Furst Lady Grace Mugabe displayed refreshing candour yesterday when she praised the country’s independent media and savaged State media, singling out The Herald newspaper for playing a destructive role in the post-congress Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars.

The forthright Zanu PF women’s league secretary also dismissed contemptuously fanciful assertions by State media that she is junior to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is said to harbour ambitions to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

 

Speaking at a rally at Mushayavanhu Business Centre in Gutu, Grace said emphatically that she was not junior to the country’s two vice presidents — vindicating Zimbabwe’s leading daily newspaper, the Daily News, which has consistently and correctly reported that hate her or like her, she is now arguably the most powerful politician in the country after her husband.

She said rather than being inferior and subordinate to Mugabe’s two VPs — Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko — as is the picture of the relationship that had been painted by State media — she was respectful towards the two men.

She also once again warned Zanu PF bigwigs who were assuming that by virtue of their positions in the ruling party and in government, which they were appointed to by Mugabe, that they were assured of succeeding the increasingly frail nonagenarian.

“I am the wife of the president of this country. I respect my leaders. I’m just someone who has just got into Zanu PF but that doesn’t make me lower than anyone. It’s only that I humble myself.

“I call Mphoko baba and I respect Mnangagwa, but I never said VPs are my seniors ... they both know I am the wife of the president, not this thing of other people writing what they want in the papers. Herald, you stop it,” the first lady said.

The Herald, which stands accused by opposition leaders together with other State media of being unashamedly pro-Zanu PF even as it is publicly controlled — recently ran a screaming headline insinuating that Grace had affirmed Mnangagwa’s seniority over her.

“I never said Mnangagwa is more senior than me. I only said he has more experience than me, which is very true. I am not lower than the vice president, no. It’s my right even to seat in the front of the politburo because I am the first lady of this country. It’s my right,” she asserted.

And in a refreshing change of view, Grace came to the defence of under siege independent journalists, including those from the Daily News, for telling it like it is.

“Sometimes we ridicule these children but in truth sometimes it’s the people in our party that go and sell out information ... I don’t condemn you.

“You (journalists) are being fed information by politburo members and by Cabinet ministers. What do we expect them to do when they are being called to offices and being given money to write … that is double standards. No, you stop it!

“Some of these children of ours are being scared by the scary faces who are threatening journalists to write. Understandably they are going and writing what you tell them.

“We are blaming journalists for nothing. This is what is happening. One day when we put the fear of God in these journalists they will come to me and tell me everything. They will say it one of these days,” the first lady said.

She also dismissed assertions by her opponents in the warring ruling party that she was leading a faction, asking rhetorically, “how I can challenge my husband”.

“I can only ask him to be my life partner. I am satisfied with what I am. This thing called First Lady is not a party. There is only one centre of power in the country,” she said.

She also reiterated her recent statement that Zimbabweans remained committed to supporting her husband, and even stood ready to do even he were a wheelbarrow, because they adored him.

“We will put the president in a wheelbarrow and tell him ‘Mugabe talk to your children’. When he finishes I will take him home, tomorrow the same thing. I tell you, this story of Mugabe will be a problem because we have not yet finished with him.

“I stay with that man, that man ... Mugabe isimbi ye basa (the president is as strong as steel). We still want him to rule and we want him to lead us while we follow behind him holding wheelbarrows,” she said to roaring laughter.

She also said contrary to the belief in some sections of the populace, Mugabe was not rich and “only owned the clothes on his back”.

“That man has nothing. I am his wife I tell you the truth. He has no riches, he is just concerned with the people of this country. The heavens love him, that’s why at 90 years he still walks.

“Where have you ever seen that? When Mugabe leaves there will be chaos, mark my words. He may say he wants to rest you never know, but for now he is not going anyway,” she added.

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