From a clerical role in the country’s state house to becoming the First Lady of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe, 52, has courted controversy at every turn. She rose to power after having an affair with embattled President Robert Mugabe who is 41 years her senior. The affair between the two started in the late 1980s and stirred a lot of controversy within Zimbabwe as both of them were married at the time. President Mugabe’s first wife was terminally ill and he defended his affair with Grace saying his wife knew about it and was comfortable with the arrangement. Within a few years of his wife’s passing, President Mugabe married Grace with a lavish wedding. The Mugabes have three children.
Grace Mugabe has always been at the center of controversy since she came into the limelight. She is nicknamed “Gucci Grace” because of her flamboyant lifestyle and lavish spending. She once spent more than 120,000 dollars during a trip abroad while the country was facing famine. She was also accused of assault by a South African model. This incident was, however, not an isolated one. She has been accused of public assault on several occasions. Recently, four people were taken to court after Grace was heckled at a political rally. Additionally, she also managed to earn a doctorate in sociology from the University of Zimbabwe within a record two months. Her thesis has, however, not ever been filed.
As a loyal wife, Grace Mugabe has always defended her husband against those criticizing his leadership or those she sees as being disloyal to him. In 2014, she triggered the ousting of Joyce Mujuru, the vice president at the time, claiming she was collaborating with the opposition to undermine her husband’s authority. This past month she took on recently sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa saying he was planning a coup against the president. Grace has been very active in politics lately having taken up a role as the head of the ZANU-PF party women’s league. Many, however, say she was creating room for herself to become the vice president in December. She is believed to also have had her eyes on taking over the presidency once her husband vacated the seat.
Uncertain Times in Zimbabwe
Since this information came into the public domain, the situation in Zimbabwe has escalated fast. Zimbabweans are wary of the creation of a dynasty in the Mugabe family. The military earlier this week made its way into Harare, the capital city, in a move that has been interpreted by pundits as a coup. Grace has apparently made her way out of the country to Namibia, and President Mugabe is said to be safe. At this time, President Mugabe is facing increasing pressure to step down. The UN and other world bodies are closely watching the situation in Zimbabwe and hope for a speedy solution to the current impasse.
(Photo credits: DandjkRoberts; CC BY-SA 3.0)