ZIMBABWE – Harare – Grace Mugabe has sparked outrage by suggesting women are to blame for rape because of the clothes they wear.
The Zimbabwean first lady, 50, told rally-goers in Mberengwa, southern Zimbabwe that “if you are raped, it’s your fault”, according to an update from the private Newsday online.
Speaking in Shona, she reportedly castigated miniskirts.
Mrs Mugabe’s disapproval of miniskirts is well-known: last year she expressed her disgust that then vice president Joice Mujuru had (so the first lady said) worn a short skirt.
“Victim blaming perpetuates the problem,” tweeted @mtchikawa on Friday, complaining that the first lady was “offside”.
“I wonder where she got the empirical evidence to support this claim!!” said @ArtherChatora.
Said @LynnBlaze: “Leaders excusing rape is part of the problem.”
The mother-of-four’s comments are in contrast to those of her husband, President Robert Mugabe, who two months ago said his government was “seriously” considering castrating rapists.
“Don’t say Mr Mugabe is becoming cruel because we want to protect our women. So men, take care,” the 91-year-old told MPs during a luncheon to mark the opening of parliament.
At the rally, the first lady is reported to have declared her “respect” for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man some believe she may be hoping to oust for the vice presidency.
“I have respect for this man. VaMnangagwa [Mr Mnangagwa] is my close friend, my best friend,” she said.
Grace Mugabe denied again this week that she wants to succeed her husband as president, but not everyone believes her.
At Friday’s rally in Mberengwa she donated diesel, soap, tractors, shoes, bicycles, suits, cooking oil, maize and rice, according to reports from Newsday and the Herald.