First lady Auxillia Mnangagwa is one of the few politicians who have taken President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pledge to hit the ground running as she criss-crosses the country doing charity work.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Mnangagwa, who is also the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe MP, has been as far as Binga visiting orphans, hospitals and prisons.
Her increased visibility has seen people comparing her with former first lady Grace Mugabe who tried to use her charity work as a springboard to the presidency.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure had some advice for Mnangagwa.
“It would be unfair to compare the current state of the first lady to the previous one, especially her last days,” he said.
“What we all know is that in the formative years, Grace Mugabe was a humble person, a real first lady who confined herself to humanitarian work and was respected across the political spectrum.
“A first lady must not be entangled in factional or party politics because she is like the mother to many orphans and the under privileged.
“I hope the current one will confine herself to that role. ”
Masungure said Grace’s downfall started when she joined active politics and started to harbour presidential ambitions —creating enemies.
“The last three years were disastrous for the former first lady, it caused her downfall, not only hers’ but even for the entire family,” he said.
“I hope the first lady could relinquish her political seat, take up the first lady’s role and help the husband in humanitarian work without attempting to influence, later on to make decisions that would affect state operations.”
Before 2014, Grace had confined herself to charity work, regularly donating to orphans and the needy. She was a patron for the Danhiko School for the disabled and her Mazowe orphanage centre.
However, after she was roped into Zanu PF politics to help push out then vice-president Joice Mujuru, Grace seemed to press the self-destruct button.
Harare-based political analyst Alexander Rusero said Mnangagwa could learn something from Grace’s charity work.
“Auxillia Mnangagwa is catching up and the good thing is she is catching up fast, only that the crisis in Zimbabwe is maintenance of momentum, which is indulging in activities for mere symbolism,” he said.
“Grace Mugabe could have been a clueless political player but her charity work speaks volumes.
“She did a perfect job in that regard and raised the philanthropic bar far too high for many.”
Rusero said Mnangagwa’s private engagements so far showed she could do politics differently.
“It is good when a first lady mixes and mingles with people, it is good when a first lady appears simplistic and ordinary, but it is also critical in that respect to be an ambassador of change,” he said.
“Auxillia can steal the show by being the messenger of change wherever she visits there must be permanent positive change.”
Mnangagwa has made headlines for visiting hospitals, donating to children’s homes’ and the prisons.
Academic Ibbo Mandaza said he viewed the “so-called philanthropic works by the first lady as side shows” with no tangible results.
“My view on these issues is very clear, these are side shows,” he said.
“These are issues with no substances. It’s just some public relations attempt. I don’t think we need to focus on that much,” he said.