PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has denied claims he was the brains behind his wife’s controversial entry into politics and her subsequent clashes with Zanu PF politicians, saying Grace was a “very mature” politician in her own right.
Mugabe said during an interview to mark his 92nd birthday celebrations with the ZBC-TV the choice was entirely Grace’s adding that while she had found herself in “rough waters” she was a “rough swimmer” with capacity to cope.
Grace, Mugabe’s former typist turned wife, initially appeared content with travelling abroad during Mugabe’s endless foreign trips which have often come with expensive shopping in western capitals since the two officially married in 1996.
But in 2014, she made a surprise entry into hard core politics where she was chosen Zanu PF secretary for women.
Asked if he had a hand in this, Mugabe said he only offered advice to his much younger wife but the choice of taking up a post was entirely hers.
“Yes two politicians at home,” Mugabe responded after he had been asked by his interviewer, Tazzen Mandizvidza, if having two politicians within the first family was noble.
“She made up her mind. She asked me if whether I approved of her …I told her it’s entirely up to her; if she wanted to join politics well and good, ‘it’s rough going, I don’t want you to say I said, tomorrow’.”
Mugabe said he had earlier extended the same advice to some of his late siblings who have been into politics before.
He added: “Yes, it has proved to be rough waters but she can cope with it she is a rough swimmer as well. Well, well she is very mature, she can take the criticism but some of the criticisms are a bit too abusive.”
Mugabe said he felt disgusted some of the malicious criticism was coming from some of the country’s young who were gushing “filthy” comments about the first family via the internet.
He admitted the endless insults directed at him and his wife had a psychological effect on his young children he said have however been mature enough to conceal their feelings within the family.
Since her entry into hard core politics, Grace has been allowed access to state resources which she has had occasion to dish out to Zanu PF supporters during her controversial meet-the-people provincial rallies.
The rallies, which have all received live coverage on national television, have seen Grace ranting angrily at rivals accusing them of organising Zanu PF members into camps in attempts to seize control of the party.
Her biggest casualty was former Vice President, Joice Mujuru, who was expelled from Zanu PF last year for allegedly leading a faction which wanted to overthrow Mugabe.
With Mujuru gone, Grace has now turned her sword to vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa whom she also sees as gunning for Mugabe’s job.
It is widely believed her diatribes against party rivals reflected President Mugabe’s thoughts about his own ambitious lieutenants.
But Mugabe denied he was behind Grace’s activities which have often seen her dragging Vice President Phelekezela Mpoko and a handful cabinet minister to her rallies.
Mugabe said Grace was in the same situation which his departed sisters, Sabina and Bridget, found themselves in when he took time advising them to join politics at their own peril.