ZIMBABWE – Besides the stated and implicit backing from her husband, Mrs. Mugabe also enjoys the support of the so-called Generation 40 or G40, a group within Zanu PF made up of well-heeled younger members who are opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and are also seen as pushing for the renewal of the party from within.
Although some see the G40 as using Mrs. Mugabe to drive its own agenda, others say she’s smart enough to be able to see through that.
Another Bulawayo resident Pamela Ncube, also feels pity for the first lady, saying she has proven her mettle by establishing and running Gushungo Holdings, which includes the Alpha and Omega Dairy Company as well as being involved in championing the cause of disadvantaged women and children.
“It hasn’t been easy for her but she has been strong. To manage to start such a big business and run it when the husband in most cases won’t be there because he is too busy is commendable. We respect her because she has stood with the women of Zimbabwe even in tough times like when there were calls for vendors to be removed from the streets. I think she is a mother at heart.”
But for MDC-T national youth spokesperson, Brian Dube, Mrs. Mugabe has no credentials that would make her fit to be president.
Dube says the first lady seems to be haunted by the ghost of President Mugabe’s first wife the late Sally, who had a charity organization that helped Zimbabwe’s poor people.
He views the first lady as too self-centered compared to the late president’s wife.
Like some, Dube sees the first lady’s entry into politics as a way of safeguarding her future after President Mugabe has taken a bow from the scene.
He alleges that “the real issue is that Grace Mugabe’s involvement in politics is precisely for one agenda: to protect the ill-gotten wealth that she and her husband have stolen over the years, which she knows that if there is any change of government or even any change in terms of succession matrix in Zanu PF she may not be able to protect that as she may be called to account. So, she is there to simply protect her loot.”
With the next general election three years away from now, it remains to be seen whether the first lady will stay the course and confound her critics and naysayers by becoming Zimbabwe’s first woman president.