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From humble typist to ‘Queen Mother’

She rose to prominence in the late 90s when the media got wind of a child born out of wedlock and subsequently reported on the impending nuptials of Grace Marufu, a typist, to her former boss, President Robert Mugabe.

By MOSES MATENGA

Then, Grace Mugabe was virtually unknown to most Zimbabweans, save for a few who whispered that she had pulled a relationship with the president, when his first wife Sally, was on her deathbed.

Her grandiose wedding became the talk of town as she shot to the State House to be a life partner to Mugabe, Zanu PF’s First Secretary and Head of State.

Grace, who had been formerly married to Stanley Goreraza, became the subject of public scrutiny and was roundly known for her reported penchant for a lavish lifestyle. There were reports of her numerous overseas shopping sprees. Clearly, politics was not her game.

With an age difference of 41 years with Mugabe, many thought she was a “gold-digger” who was there to simply enjoy the luxury associated with being a First Lady.

She would appear at State or Zanu PF functions showing little, if any interest in politics. She would bring along her children, Bona, Robert Jnr, Chatunga and her first child Russell Goreraza.

She confined herself to domestic affairs, raising children and running family projects and businesses seemingly detached from political dynamics in Zanu PF.

As the children grew up, she focused her energies on her orphanage and Gushungo Dairies owned by the First Family in Mazowe.

Rarely was she active in the public domain and only clawed into the political arena when Mugabe faced a tough 2008 election against MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai. She started addressing her own rallies denouncing Tsvangirai. in the few instances she would open her mouth to speak, she let loose her acerbic tongue with a classic example being the July 2013 election campaign where she spoke at length on how ugly MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was.

“When [President] Mugabe first met him [Tsvangirai], he came back home shivering and I asked him, ‘what happened, have you been threatened?’ He said to me ‘I have never seen such an ugly person. He is ugly, ugly both inside and [on] his face,” she said.

“I was once told by his close associates who work with him that one day he [Tsvangirai] looked into a mirror and he fled his face saying I have seen an animal through the mirror.” The comments invited anger from observers and Tsvangirai loyalists.
Such pettiness did not point to a political creature in the making.

The year 2014 brought in a whole new Grace Mugabe. Far from the young woman who always dressed to the nines, the new Grace comes across as a powerful figure who wields so much power that the destiny of the party seems to be in her hands.

Her political life changed dramatically when she was unanimously nominated by the Women’s League and endorsed by the Youth League and traditional chiefs to take up the post of secretary for the Women’s League currently held by Oppah Muchinguri.

It is her transformation from being a “behind-the-scenes” spouse of Zimbabwe’s most powerful man to a fully-fledged politician who is now aiming to lead the country that has shocked many and raised more questions than answers.

Grace has dropped the high heels and the expensive outfits for party regalia and a headscarf, a motherly headdress that completes her look.

“She has been reading the Zanu PF politics from the backstage and seems to have mastered the art of navigating through the tough terrains,” said a senior Zanu PF official.

Wherever she goes now, she has ministers and senior government officials in tow. The presidential choppers are at her service.

Heavy security is always provided for by the state. Although she holds no post in Zanu PF, she is allowed to hold briefings with senior party leaders in provinces before the main rally for secret briefings, just like Mugabe . She is now accorded respect of the highest order by all in Zanu PF.

Feared political heavyweights in Zanu PF, among them Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Oppah Muchinguri call her “Queen Mother, Queen of Queens, a unifier par excellence.”

In her speeches, Grace can now go for more than an hour on the podium touching on one subject after the other, from social problems, factionalism in the party, corruption and other critical issues.

She is now fearless in naming and shaming high-ranking powerful party officials who she always accuse of plotting against her husband and recently made it clear that she was aiming at even the top post, that of President.

“You would see me quiet, a young girl, what did you think I was doing? I was learning,” she said in Masvingo, adding on to speculation that she was aiming to succeed Mugabe.

“So what is shocking you today? You made me what I am, I was copying from you. You are not supposed to be shocked; I am seeing a higher post. If you are not serious, women will take over the party.”

Though some say her speeches lack coherency, other analysts believe that her speeches now show someone who went through intense grooming and looks set to take politics seriously and like she said, aim for higher office.

“Her duty as First Lady entails political activity and she has tried to transform herself politically,” said political analyst Takura Zhangazha.

“Essentially she has not made a mark outside her husband’s shadows. She is preparing and is well coached to deliver speeches and argue her issues in the public domain though she is still trying. The preparations appear to be largely for public rallies, but politics is not just about that.”

Another analyst Blessing Vava feels that though Grace has tried hard to transform herself politically, it was too early to judge.
“I think it’s too early to judge, however. I think she is indirectly campaigning for a certain faction under the guise of unifying people,” he said.

“She is not her own person, the reason why she is doing all this is because of insecurity after Mugabe, and it’s clear that she is fronting some people.”

From a mere office secretary and a shopping addict, the sky may be the limit for Grace as long as Mugabe is still the president.
“When I was approached to come into politics and lead the women, one day I saw a vision of me ruling the heavenly kingdom. I’m here today witnessing it and I have decided to take up the challenge,” she told a rally in Masvingo recently.

17 Responses to From humble typist to ‘Queen Mother’

  1. ana boys October 19, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    It’s not looking good for the country. Cry the beloved country.

  2. Musona October 19, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    So far I have not heard of any speeches by Zimbabwean politicians which have any coherence since 1960. Grace’s speeches are just as incoherent. Napoleon once said “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap”. And Tina Fey said, “Politics and prostitution have to be the only jobs where inexperience is considered a virtue. In what other profession would you brag about not knowing stuff?”
    Let me give an example – Is it coherent for a politician to say whites stole our fertile land from 1890 when the few villagers at the time shared one BADZA per village and there was no irrigation or fertiliser at the time? How much can you till with one badza? Not more than an 18-yard area of a football field. So why would the villagers have needed fertile land for? The GEJO (ox-drawn plough) was brought by the whites. The other example of incoherence is that the Shangaans came from Zululand under Sochangane in 1820 and settled in the south east of now Zimbabwe and the Ndebeles came from Zululand in October 1837 and settled in now south west Zimbabwe and no politician has told them to got back to Zululand but want the whites, who set out the borders, created the nation-state, and introduced schools and industries, to go back. Yet another example of incoherence is politicians telling whites to go back when it was the same whites who paid school fees and college fees and gave them houses and jobs for the likes of Nkomo, Parirenyatwa, Mugabe, Sithole, Zvobgo, Mawema, Jonathan Moyo, Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa, Muzorewa, Mangwende, et al. I can go on and on. If you rant and rave in good colonial English you can be a politician in Zimbabwe. Grace is ranting in Zezuru people will not take her seriously.

  3. Typist Gire October 19, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    She is the biggest curse to befall this country.
    Imagine what would have happened to this lovely country if Sally was still alive and Mugabe had resigned in the early 90s.

    • Gutter Poet October 26, 2014 at 11:23 am #

      She just might be the best thing that ever happened to the party and to Zim politics in general. All she need do is get Oppah and Mujuru to form a proper queue and everything will fall neatly into place….If she were to succeed then her statement of women taking over would have proven prophetic….and why not?

  4. the truth October 19, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Mwari baba tiregerereiwo zvitadzo zvedu zvose. Tidzikinureiwo kubva kuhutongi hunozvriangarira hwega husina tsitsi noruzhinji hunoponda hunoba hunofunga kuti vamwe vose havana kodzero yekutingamirira nyika ino.

  5. Matakanyanya Chaiwo October 19, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    Whose Queen mother are you talking about? Perhaps the poor people who are coerced to attend her so called rallies because they are hungry. No normal person would listen to such an ignoramus (7%).

  6. Karigamombe October 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    Mai Grace Mugabe is a person who is so disrespectful to members who are appointed in Government by her husband. She has got no right what so ever to start challenging Senior Government Officials just because she is campaigning for the top seat in the woman’s top League in Zanu PF. Where was Grace when Mai Mujuru known at that time as Teurai Ropa was liberating the country. The fact that she elevated herself to the position that was meant for Sally Mugabe does not give he r a right to also Elevate herself into top positions whereby she even see’s herself to reshuffle Government Officials to what she expects. Zimbabweans should not allow Bedroom issues to go all the way to the Cabinet and also to the Parliament. Mai we are strongly advising you that you should stop playing with fire,there is still time for you to learn shutting up your big mouth. This is Politics we don’t want to see you seeking Asylum elsewhere when you have been thrown out of Zimbabwe by the same people whom you are insulting. The Bible says its only fools who goes around uttering stupid things but those with Godly Wisdom they will keep quiet allowing yourself to destroy yourself. Get as many Farms as you need but please stop insulting your Seniors because you are being given the Platform to do so. I have strongly warned you

  7. Jokoniya Musweweshiri October 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Zimbabwe deserves the humiliation it is currently suffering. An ignorant typist is shouting at grow up men as if they were her naughty grandchildren. She has realized that Zimbabweans are a bunch of sheep with no courage at all. Elections are stolen in broad daylight and nobody has the guts to stand up to the riggers. Degrees- whole PhDs- are stolen right under our very noses and only a few students dare complain. Politicians loot a dozen farms each and nobody raises an eye brow. We are worse than mice!

    • Gutter Poet October 26, 2014 at 11:25 am #

      Remember the words of Lenin..”A good cook can run the country..” What is so special and difficult about running government of a third world country?

  8. chief zex October 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    God will hear our prayers one day.

  9. Mike October 20, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Grace should be ashamed of herself …she is not the rightful person to be talking about corruption …she is just smarting from a fresh corruption scandal of being conferred with a controversial PHD..

  10. Mike October 20, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

    Grace Mugabe should be reminded that Zimbabwe is not a Mugabe Dynasty, neither is it a monarchy..she should try and respect senior government officials and stop acting like sex starved teenager…

  11. Amanda Kilimanjaro October 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    and zimbabwe continues to fall in a downward spiral and the factional fights in zanu take center stage

    • Ndanatsei October 26, 2014 at 12:10 am #

      I think while Grace has succeeded in splitting Zanu PF, this is the right time for Zimbabweans to form a strong opposition party.

      • Buffalojump October 26, 2014 at 1:21 am #

        There is no longer a strong opposition in site. The person who becomes most influential in Zanu PF will be the next President. That person will be Grace Mugabe. She has the Presidents organization and power supporting her. The Mugabe Dynasty is alive and well.

        • Gutter Poet October 26, 2014 at 11:27 am #

          Not so fast..the one taking over is not necessarily Grace..but she is making sure she will exert and excercise real influence and control over the incumbent..like Mrs Machel in Mozambique when Chissano took over.

  12. myself October 26, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    guys, some of the comments posted hear are scary, mind your language please, this country is a dangerous one, tinozokushaya kuti wakaendepi chokwadi

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