“Gucci Grace” from Benoni: Is she Robert Mugabe’s biggest mistake? He asked me, while slowly blowing his Cuban Cigar in an up market Sandton, restaurant.
“You know, Thabo, the Grace Mugabe and Uncle Bob’s marriage and the formation of the G-40 cabal and the dismissal of Emerson “The Crocodile” Mnangagwa from ZANU-PF and as the first Vice President of Zimbabwe is reminiscent of the Biblical Samson and Delilah’s story. This is very sad indeed. How can a man who fought so hard be brought down and controlled to a helpless state?” he remarked.
I responded, well, too little too late. I looked at him nodding my head. You cannot fault Grace that is the choice that Uncle Bob made.
Well at least for me, “I have been there, done that, I can tell a parasite when I see one”, he said.. Unfortunately, I learnt the hard way, I knew from day one that, she was not what I was looking for, she was just not the right cut for me.”. I hate myself even more now, I keep asking myself, Just why did I get myself into this mess”?, as he takes another gorilla puff from his Cuban cigar with..
I really feel sorry for Uncle Bob, I really feel sorry. He remarked.
Where did it all begin? In the year 1992, Mugabe’s first wife Sally died of Kidney disease. In 1996, Mugabe married his former secretary, Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe (nee Marufu) born on the 23rd July 1965 in Benoni, South Africa. Zimbabwe’s former First Lady Grace is 41 years Mugabe’s junior. Grace had previously been married to Air Force of Zimbabwe pilot Stanley Goreraza, with whom she had a son Russell.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on 21st February, 1924; just four months after Southern Rhodesia became a British colony, to parents Gabriel Matibiri and Bona Mugabe. His father worked as a carpenter at the Kutama Jesuit Mission but in 1934 when the young Robert was just 10, his father left in apparent search for work, heading to the city of Bulawayo.
Word is that Mugabe senior remarried and started a family while in Bulawayo, abandoning his first family and leaving Robert deeply despondent. Bona was left to fend for four children on her own. Unlike most of his compatriots at the time, Robert Mugabe was one of the few people in Southern Rhodesia who received a quality education at a time the country was engulfed in deep racism, inequality and separation. History books tell us that.
Mugabe attended school at the elite St. Francis Xavier Kutama College, and went on to become a school teacher. He later received a scholarship to study at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English in 1951. In 1957 Mugabe moved to newly independent Ghana to take up a job as a teacher. It was in Ghana that he met his first wife Sally Hayfron, while he was working at the St. Mary’s Teacher Training College.
On his return to Southern Rhodesia in 1960 ÔÇô apparently to introduce Hayfron to Bona, Mugabe was displeased with the heavy crackdown on dissent in his home country by the ruling white government. He reportedly spoke fondly about the independence he had experienced in Ghana, and the tenets of equality based on the principles of Marxism which he had now embraced. This was the birth of Robert Mugabe’s long and tenacious political career.
Among the notable positions in his fledgling political career, Mugabe was roped into the National Democratic Party which was launching different means of resistance against white minority rule in 1960. Mugabe was elected as the party’s publicity secretary. He resigned from his teaching post in Ghana and concentrated on his rising political career. That political career was to earn him 11 years as a political prisoner under Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government from 1964.
Mugabe later rose to lead the Zimbabwe African National Union movement and was one of the key negotiators in the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, which led to the 1980 elections and the creation of a fully democratic Zimbabwe. Elected prime minister after the polls, and later president, Mugabe preached the gospel of conciliation with the country’s white minority and former oppressors, but sidelined his rivals through political maneuvering and force.
At the fall of white minority rule with the 1980 general elections, a charismatic Mugabe led his Zanu-PF party to resounding victory. .
Whether by hook or by crook, Mugabe clung to power firmly up-to the day the Zanu-PF was fed up with him (supposedly) and the impeachment attempt. The events in Harare were by far the most significant threat to end his rule. Mugabe’s trademark raised clenched fist aptly describes his 37 years in office ÔÇô a rein typified by resistance, stubbornness, authority, unity, force and callousness.
Standing by his wife in her blatant bid to succeed him was probably the greatest mistake Robert Mugabe made in the 37 years he was president of Zimbabwe. It was his decision to sack his deputy, also in the race for leadership, at the urging of Grace that proved to be his downfall.
Grace became involved with Mugabe while she was still married to Goreraza then as the president’s secretary. It was not long before Grace earned the nickname “Gucci Grace” owing to her penchant for shopping and an expensive taste.
In 2014, Grace got the post of leader of ZANU-PF women’s league. Using that position and proximity to Mugabe, she hatched presidential ambition and in a political career moving at lightning speed, she convinced Mugabe to sack Vice- President Joice Mujuru. At least, news from Zimbabwe tell us that
Backed by her influential faction in Zanu-PF, known as the Generation 40 or G40, the highly vocal Grace was instrumental in the ousting of several alternative potential successors to her husband’s presidency. Now the tables have turned. When President Robert Gabriel Mugabe appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa as Vice President Mnangagwa’s wife knelt down to thank Mugabe.
In an unprecedented act that left Mapanzure villagers shell shocked, former Vice President and now President of the Republic of Zimbabwe’s wife Auxillia Mnangagwa knelt before invited guests as she delivered a thank you message to former President Mugabe for giving her husband the Vice Presidency job. So humble was the then Vice President’s wife that she could not afford to thank the former Head of State and Government while standing on her feet. She decided to be on her knees throughout her speech.
‘I wish to say thank you to the President. It is called fool tics or rather politricks. .
The G40 faction bit off more than it could swallow when it convinced Mugabe to fire Vice-President Emmerson “The Crocodile” Mnangagwa from Zanu-PF and the government, accusing him of disloyalty. That was their major un-doing; otherwise the master plan to have Pretty face (Grace) succeed Uncle Bob could have materialized.
In the days after Mnangagwa’s removal and his escape into exile, Grace won the support of several key structures of Zanu-PF to fill Mnangagwa’s shoes as vice-president of Zimbabwe. At least, that was until the army seized control and placed her and Mugabe under house arrest. Grace was rumored to have fled to Namibia and Zimbabwe.
Many Zimbabweans have still not recovered from the shock. When the Speaker of parliament announced that, after 37 years in charge, Mugabe had resigned, it became a party throughout Zimbabwe and to comfortably put it ÔÇô the world.
The people of Zimbabwe should be allowed to celebrate their victory, but they will soon realize that their struggle is only beginning. The replacement of one leader with another cut from the same cloth is not ideal, but at least it is a start. In some ways, Zimbabweans will know that they are dealing with a devil they know. Many Zimbabweans have the Benoni born Grace to thank. .
As to whether the Blesser and Blessee phenomenon could be figured is for you to un-pack dear reader. Well Sociologist often says this behavior and the social construct can be understood by an assessment of the family.
What is your take dear reader?
Wishing you a Merry Xmas and Happy New year.
Thabo Lucas Seleke writes from Seleme Farm, Rasesa