Many Zanu PF officials have been capitalising on the fear invoked by the mere mention of the First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name to fleece desperate homeseekers of millions of dollars through bogus deals.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Analysts yesterday said this attested to the fact that the First Lady was feared to the extent that corrupt individuals stole lots of money by misusing her name.
They said it also demonstrated that Grace had become very influential in the party, as well as in the government, resulting in her name becoming a conduit to acquiring easy money.
Political analyst Takura Zhanga-zha said: “The main reason is that it is relatively easy to use Grace’s name because of the political fear that her name invokes in desperate citizens seeking to acquire stands.
“More so, most of those co-operatives were linked to individuals that were sympathetic to the ruling party, and most important is the fact that the issue of politics and the culture of patronage in Zanu PF are at play.
“Association with important names such as the First Lady’s helps uncouth individuals to get past the red tape or to swindle innocent citizens,” he said.
Another political analyst, Blessing Ivan Vava said people had become aware of Grace’s political influence within Zanu PF and sought to exploit it.
“Grace has become a very powerful and feared figure in Zanu PF and people are aware of her big influence, not only to her husband President Robert Mugabe, but also in the political dynamics of the party. This is evident in the events that transpired before the 2014 Zanu PF congress. The people who used her name were very aware of those dynamics,” Vava said.
Abuse of Grace’s name was said to be rampant, to the extent that it was discussed at last week’s Zanu PF politburo meeting.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing minister Saviour Kasukuwere, was tasked to stop the “renegades” from misusing the First Lady’s name.
During a meeting of councillors in Chinhoyi last week, Kasukuwere warned Zanu PF members against using fake housing co-operatives and schools to swindle people out of their money using Grace’s name.
Some of the Zanu PF officials who allegedly misused the First Lady’s name to commit fraud included the party’s Harare provincial secretary for administration, Louis Matutu.
Caledonia residents last week fingered him for having written a letter demanding money from parents of schoolchildren using Grace’s name.
Contacted for comment, Matutu took a combative stance and refused to confirm whether or not he wrote the letter soliciting money on behalf of the First Lady.
“Contact your sources, don’t talk to me. I will not comment on that, and don’t bother me,” Matutu retorted before hanging up.
In Harare, several organisations linked to Zanu PF have named their organisations after the First Lady.
These include the Queen of Grace ZimAsset Trust which also uses Grace’s photograph emblazoned on their regalia.
The group is linked to invasions of open spaces and is illegally charging vendor trading fees using her name. In Kambuzuma, invaders have named their co-operative Gracelands.