The writer wishes to highlight Grace Mugabe’s political journey and her use of the G40 cabal in dismantling the Zimbabwe African National Union for Patriotic Front (Zanu PF). Apart from reflecting Grace Mugabe’s shortfalls, this series shows the transition of power caused partly by Grace’s unwise public utterances. Events that coerced Mugabe to resign such as the Solidarity march, military intervention and the impeachment are also revisited.
The first lady that never was
The political journey that Grace Mugabe and the G40 cabal anticipated remained elusive due to the military intervention to restore order in Zanu PF. The first lady was presumably among the corrupt individuals who surrounded Robert Mugabe. In her endeavour to be the Vice President of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe used unorthodox means that amalgamated to the expulsion of Joice Mujuru and later Emerson Mnangagwa.
Grace Mugabe’s political profile had soared in the past few years as the 52-year-old had positioned herself as her husband’s successor. While married to an air force pilot, Grace met the much older president years ago when she served as a secretary in his office. The couple have a 41-year age gap and Robert Mugabe was still married to his first wife Sally when he met Grace. Sally, who was suffering from a terminal illness, died in 1992.
Four years later, Mugabe and Grace married in an extravagant ceremony attended by 40 000 people including former South African leader Nelson Mandela. Grace Mugabe seemed to struggle to emerge from the shadow left by the president’s first wife. She was later nicknamed Gucci Grace due to her extravagant spending and twice use of diplomatic immunity as a shield from accusations of assaulting a British photographer in Hong Kong and whipping a South African model with an electric cord. An attempt to set up a dynastic succession prompted the Zimbabwe’s military to finally step in.
Grace was accused of being determined to succeed her husband and in the end proved her husband’s downfall. The old adage that ‘a week is a long time in politics’ rang true for Robert Mugabe and his over-ambitious wife as the crowds gathered at the Zimbabwe Grounds and at Freedom Square in the capital calling for Mugabe’s exit. The tables have been turned and all of a sudden Zimbabwe has experienced what others call a historic transition. In October 2017 Sakubva Stadium in Mutare, Grace said she was not afraid of being shot by the army and this infuriated the commanders. Mugabe survived that long because he had the backing of the military even at the time when he lost an election in 2008 against Morgan Tsvangirai. The army only intervened this time around because he was now persecuting his war-time allies and threatening their interests. The general’s positions were on the brink.
Grace Mugabe used other politicians to further her political ambitions known as the G40. This group included Walter Muzembi, Letina Undenge, Kudzanai Chipanga, Chimedza Saviour Kasukuwere, and Patrick Zhuwao among others. Kudzai Chipanga will certainly be a good example to the young people of Zimbabwe of how they should not be used by politicians. While he had been making annoying statements on behalf of certain senior officials, it was him who appeared on TV with a bloodied and swollen mouth-not the senior politicians.
…To be continued
The writer is a holder of an Honours degree in History and is a product of Great Zimbabwe University (GZU). He writes articles for educational purposes.