Decoding Grace Mugabe’s messages

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LET me begin by stating that I have no dog in this fight and hold no brief for the protagonists as I blame them for the economic and social displacement of the citizens and political problems visiting the nation. Like many Zimbabweans I have been following Mrs Mugabe’s “meet the people rallies” with a keen interest hoping she would be talking about poverty alleviation amongst the vulnerable groups such as elderly women and children. To my shock I did not hear a single word of how she would improve their lives; all I heard were innuendos targeted at another woman, the widow of a gallant war veteran and Vice President (VP) of the country.
This left me wondering how culpable Mugabe is in all the antics on “the meet the people tours”. Mrs Mugabe has seen it necessary to go around the country pleading with the nation that the President is over-worked and doing his subordinate’s workload! He is failing to delegate duties, to supervise and to discipline; hence his wife has become a de facto President. Mrs Mugabe has completely taken over the duties of her husband. What she is doing implies she has powers to hire and fire government ministers. The coded message is that the President complaints to his beloved that he is overworked, and underpaid (refer first Mazoe rally).This is a plea for help from Mrs Mugabe on behalf of the President. Mugabe’s performance as president since marrying Grace may also be understood in this context.
Mrs Mugabe has spoken against her enemies and frenemies in an unrestrained manner using language which is not synonymous with a first lady of the country. At Mazoe she tore through the VP in an unprecedented way that left me in shock. She made fun of men and women who were invited to this gathering. Her shenanigans have exposed her husband’s incompetency as head of his family and head of state. She presented herself as a frustrated wife, mother and desperate to be relevant.
Mrs Mugabe made serious allegations against the VP. The allegations range from:-  corruption, extortion, money laundering, factionalism, bribery, incompetence, insubordination, running a parallel government, externalising or grabbing mineral resources, being a quisling of foreign governments, starting opposition parties (MDC and MKD) and gossiping. The charge sheet is long and not exhaustive. All these allegations expose Mugabe as an incompetent CEO who has completely failed to manage his underlings to a point where his wife has to intervene. This is evidenced by the threat to the President by his wife that if he fails to “dump” the VP, then Mrs will do it!  The implication is clear that the President has failed to rein in his junior. The catalogue of crimes of omission, commission are enough to get any one fired from a job, yet he kept her even allowing her to act in his stead while he went away for holidays and troublesome eye checks. Since the death of vice president John Landa Nkomo (who got very few acting chances) the President did not appoint a substantive deputy but continued to toil hard at work, with an incompetent deputy, we are told.Advertisement

Mrs Mugabe in her ranting has exposed her husband and the country. It has become apparent why the economy is on a free fall; no competent person is in charge! Should we say Mrs Mugabe is whistle blowing to the public? Her messages are open to interpretations. On 18 October 2011 an online publication quoted WikiLeaks saying that “First Lady Grace Mugabe should not be underrated because she wields so much power and influence over President Mugabe”.
This I suppose was gleaned from conversations with members of Zanu PF who had loose tongues and sang like parrots to the then US ambassador Charles Ray. An insightful observation was made by the then Norwegian ambassador who on 25 November 2009 commented that the First Lady wielded immense influence over the former guerrilla leader, “She acts as a kind of gatekeeper, often controlling who sees him, and what information gets to him.”
It is five years since the statements and it is evident that Mrs Mugabe has garnered enough experience of statecraft that she can now act as king maker. If Mrs Mugabe controls access to the head of state it follows therefore that all ministers are at her beck and call and confirms that she now has access to intelligence briefings meant for the President and is using them to shape her future. How else could she have dossiers and has the audacity to instruct people to go and grovel before the President for forgiveness unless she is the de facto President?
What we can decode going back to the past is that Mrs Mugabe is now the de facto President. Mr Mugabe is tired; however the plan as mooted and exposed in the WikiLeaks is to declare that he should be allowed to serve as President indefinitely and should not have to retire at a certain time. The current meet-the-people tours fit nicely with the plan and are just a smokescreen.  In the end all factions will be declared incapable and the President will be life president. The President has now become hostage as a result of his inaction over the years. His wife is the one who has usurped all power and decides who kisses the king’s ring and who gets condemned.
If the so-called vanguards of the party do not step in and rescue their party, they risk throwing it and the country to the crocodiles. A look at the luminaries aligned to the First Lady; who in all honesty are really not angels so-to-speak does not bode well for all of us who care about Zimbabwe.
1. Emmerson Mnangagwa – he has been alleged to have played a part in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces genocide and leads the faction. He is known for raging and leading a violent reaction after losing the 2005 election to Blessing Chebundo.
2. Oppah Muchinguri – has been fingered justly or unjustly in the death of many interred at the Heroes’ Acre.
3. Obert Mpofu – has gone from being a low party apparatchik to a very wealthy man. He has been embroiled in Marange diamonds and owns large swathes of land and a failing bank.
4. Ignatius Chombo – I need not say much his divorce exposed how much real estate he owns land in every municipality hidden under investment vehicles Dilcrest Investment (http://africangreed.blogspot)
5. Saviour Kasukuwere – is alleged to own more than 5 farms and ran aground business empires (UTC, Interfresh, Genesis Bank)
6. Patrick Chinamasa – The less said about his war credentials the better.
7. Josiah Hungwe – was a functionary during the war singing against the war vets he purports to support
8. Jonathan Moyo – a brilliant Machiavellian political scientist – the Karl Rove of Zimbabwean politics. Ignore him at your peril. He is thought to have been behind Mrs Mugabe’s meteoric rise (he is the original weevil according to Mr Mugabe’s own words).
9. Phillip Chiyangwa – served as Rhodesian reservist but now tries too airbrush his past by being a zealot in all things Zanu PF.
10. Patrick Zhuwawo – familial relation to the family residing at State House; a nephew hanging on the coat tails of his well-known uncle.
Nine of the above, including Mrs Mugabe, have no war credentials or business acumen of any kind and if the Mazoe putsch succeeds and Joyce Mujuru and other authors of the struggle will be sidelined. The above characters are poised to be the future custodians of Zanu PF and the country by extension. We have every reason to be afraid. Very afraid!
Hlaleleni Karanda is a founder member of Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign and a human rights activist living in Northern Ireland and also ZUNDE’s Regional Representative for Ireland. She writes this piece in her personal capacity and it does not reflect the views of the organisations mentioned above. She can be contacted at You may visit ZUNDE at or email