Presidential spokesperson George Charamba reportedly made curious statements last week declaring that the First Lady Grace Mugabe is a private citizen whose prolonged absence from Zimbabwe should not be a cause for concern to anybody.
The Standard Editorial
He had been asked about the First Lady’s health and her continued absence from Zimbabwe.
Charamba is quoted in the media saying: “Why do you want to know about the First Lady when the President or the husband is not asking me about the First Lady?”… “She is not a civil servant, she is not a constitutional officer. Why do you pry into the life of a private citizen in the name of news?
He also said: “Don’t worry about her; there is one person you want to worry about, your first President. That’s the guy who makes laws for you, not the First Lady.”
“The first lady’s title is not a status that would make her accountable to you and me; where have you seen enshrined in the Constitution that there shall be a First Lady whose availability shall be known to the media.
“She has absolutely no reason to account for her presence or absence zvamuchose; hapatomborina at law or in actual practise.
“The only time she comes closest to that is when she is acting as Women’s League secretary, in which case you will not be talking to me because I don’t speak for Zanu PF.”
There are several reasons why the citizens of this country can claim entitlement to know about the wellbeing of the First Lady and also be concerned about her continued absence from the country.
We do not believe it is subject of much debate the fact that besides being the country’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s recent public exposure has made her a public figure.
Politicians are public figures whose lives are of public interest, and Grace Mugabe is one politician who is above just an average public figure.
She earned herself this position when she, on her cross country meet-the-people-tour to thank the nation for seconding her to the Women’s League leadership, commandeered not only top national security including military helicopters, but the entire government in the form of ministers who abandoned their offices to traverse the country with her.
If this does not make her a public figure, then what will?
The fact that she clearly instructed the decimation of high political and government figures like Joice Mujuru, Didymus Mutasa and others, makes her not only a public figure, but a very important and interesting one.
Zanu PF is the ruling party and whatever happens inside that party affects the running of this country. Grace sits in that party’s politburo and is a member of the all-important disciplinary committee whose impending decision on certain members will have a serious bearing in the running and future of this country.
So there certainly cannot be any pretense that she is a private citizen whose life should not be a subject of media probe.
Therefore, Cde Charamba, the nation has the right to know about the health and whereabouts of Grace Mugabe the First Lady, Zanu PF politburo disciplinary committee member and prospective minister of government!