Grace overstepping the boundaries

via Grace overstepping the boundaries – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 3, 2015

Reports that Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko take notes from First Lady Grace Mugabe are a stunning disclosure that shows that Zimbabwe is going nowhere especially if a person who holds no constitutional roles is directing government operations.

The disclosures by President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace are in themselves a direct attack on the country’s governance charter spelling out in what way the Executive should uphold the people’s aspirations. She made the remarks to thousands of people at the commissioning of a housing project in Kadoma, which also ominously tied in with what Mugabe said soon after their appointment that the Vice-Presidents have no laid down mandate but will simply do what would be assigned to them.

At this rate, then the country is on a wrong trajectory altogether with Mugabe’s continued stay at the helm of the country at age 91. It is clear in Grace’s stunning revelations that Mugabe no longer has a role to play in how the country should be governed, yet he claims to be in control.

Grace appears to be taking a cue from ex-Malawian strongman Kamuzu Banda’s “wife” Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira. Although the two were never officially married, Kadzamira was Malawi’s official hostess/First Lady during Banda’s reign. During the rest of Banda’s rule until his defeat in 1994, Mama Kadzamira as she was known was reportedly the most powerful woman in Malawi and it appears Zimbabwe is spectacularly hurtling towards a similar political route.

How long should this be allowed to continue? How can the Vice-Presidents be made to report to Grace who at the moment does not hold any constitutional position? This confirms why the people and the international world have all along been calling for Mugabe’s deserved rest from politics.

We believe the Vice-Presidents must be allowed to discharge their roles without Grace’s interference. We wonder what will happen if Mugabe decides to appoint his wife to a Cabinet position given she is now Zanu PF secretary for women’s affairs in the politburo. It is clear in this case that the Vice-Presidents although senior by virtue of their positions will always kneel before the 49-year-old Grace simply because she is Mugabe’s wife.

What is even more worrisome is that Grace appears to be overstepping her boundaries because being First Lady is merely ceremonial while her being women’s affairs boss does not confer on her the authority to meddle in government business.

Even more strange and disconcerting is that from the moment Grace ventured into politics, she has started carrying more weight than Mugabe himself, influencing critical decisions and leading the vilification and ouster of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, ex-national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, ex-Mashonaland East minister Ray Kaukonde and former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa among others.

Now, Grace is on a denigration campaign against Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana. For Tomana, the writing is on the wall, and he should simply move away unscathed to save himself from undue attacks from Grace. We wonder, is this what happens in other countries? Do First Ladies decide on behalf of their husbands especially on matters of governance?

Regrettably, even if Grace has a valid point in what she says especially in Tomana’s case, there is no civility in how she puts across her points. This is uncouth for someone who prefers the moniker Mother of the Nation.

Several Cabinet ministers skipped Parliamentary debates on Wednesday just to be seen around Grace. Perhaps this is why kleptomaniacal behaviour in Zanu PF has reached disparate levels with politicians using the Mugabes’ names to extort businesses around the country — both local and foreign. Grace should stop all this nonsense. Zimbabweans deserve better.