Grace Mugabe has been in the news recently because of the overthrow of her husband the one, the only Robert Mugabe. The fall of one of Africa’s longest serving presidents has been largely attributed to Grace’s political ambitions. A Zimbabwean journalist has now come out with some scandalous stories that could not be released when Mugabe was in power. The anecdote shows that Grace had been exercising a lot of power even in the late 90s.
The journalist called Foster Dongozi writing in The Standard this weekend, relays a story from back in 1997 when he had accompanied Robert Mugabe to Paris – all as part of a press junket.He was at the Ritz hotel, chatting to the late Foreign Affairs minister, Stanislaus Mudenge, known by some as Cde Stan. He writes:
“Legendary stories were told among veteran journalists about how a certain young lady always found herself on the presidential entourage together with one or two kids who would cause absolute racket on the plane. According to the legend, several high ranking officials on the plane would receive generous amounts of slaps to their faces and thank the kids or apologise to them. She appeared to notice and identify some of the officials on the presidential entourage and she nodded to them.”
When she noticed Cde Stan, she reportedly shouted:
“Murikupira midzimu yekupi?” (What traditional rituals are you conducting?) Zimbabwe’s chief diplomat at the time for all his size, appeared to turn grey before he sprang up with the agility of a gazelle. “I am going!” he all but screamed at me curtly as he made a beeline towards Grace and appeared to be apologising profusely for dereliction of duty. Foster says Cde Stan went on to escort Grace to the elevator and appeared to “continue prostrating himself before Grace as she looked at him sternly.”
Gadem! Even a powerful minister like the one running the foreign affairs ministry was terrified of her and this was in 1997! So one wonders how much power she had been able to amass in this last decade, especially when her husband has been on the wane both physically and mentally.