IF I had sufficient political clout to be able to sit with Grace Mugabe, I would NOT be sitting and writing this article which I pray she will be able to read.


I would have preferred what usually is termed a girl talk.

While many people may have an automatic response to want to lynch the First Lady, I just find in her a woman who is being used in a bigger political game to which she has no appreciation of what is actually happening around her and the impact of the political decision she has taken on her future and her children.

There are three main issues that concern me over what I will term “the Grace pawn star game”.

The first one is that she seems oblivious to the fact that almost 21 years after Sally Mugabe’s death, she has always been viewed as second wife, a home wrecker and a gold digger.

I do speak from personal experience, it is almost impossible that a young woman who marries a much older man can ever be accepted to have done so for legitimate and bona fide reasons.

Ascending to political positions as a wife to a political leader is almost only accepted in circumstances where the wife has been part of the husband’s history of liberation.

So it would be folly for Grace to compare herself to Sally primarily because she is perceived as a late comer to President Robert Mugabe’s political life.

She only needs to look at the examples of GraÇa Machel, who despite being a politician and powerful individual in her own right, had to understand that the gender dynamics of entering in a marriage with Nelson Mandela despite the divorce still meant that only Winnie Madikizela would always remain as accepted political partner to Mandela.

For all the time that GraÇa was married to Nelson Mandela, she not once attempted to take any political role in the ANC because she was intelligent enough to understand that basic fact.

The other example was the short-lived time of Callista Chimombo, wife of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, although a political activist in her own right, once she entered the marriage institution in which she was seen as a new comer, she failed to claim any political legitimacy.

Ironically, even with the re-entry of her husband’s brother, she continues to be an outsider in that party’s politics.

Sadly, Callista is a woman who had built her own political brand, which unfortunately died once she entered into marriage and got buried with her husband’s death.

Grace’s role of supporting her husband without entering Zanu PF politics is the best strategy of securing both her political and economic interests. She obviously clearly cannot appreciate that those asking her to enter the political mine field are doing it more for themselves than for her.

For the few years that I have worked with Mugabe, he has always seemed to be very protective of his family. I do hope that in this instance he can get her to understand that too many odds are stuck against her, and that she is likely to be the biggest victim and loser if she proceeds with this position.

Secondly, it is increasingly clear that Grace is a strategic tool in that given her political naivety – she is the gun used to shoot at the other factions and she, therefore, has already made serious strategic blunders.

One of those of blunders is the direct attacks on some of those in the leadership of Zanu PF, in so doing she made factional politics more complex.

Grace’s entry also weakens Mugabe in that over the years his strength has been his ability to NOT be seen to take sides on the factionalism in Zanu PF.

Grace’s unstrategic attacks on some of the Zanu PF colleagues may force her husband to show his hand on the factional politics and, therefore, create further complications to the existing divisions.

While the dummy sold by those that are using Grace may be that her entrance may ensure that outside her husband, she may be able to launch herself as a political leader of the party, that is almost impossible.

Firstly, because one of the fundamental principles of Zanu PF is that the leadership of the party is only a preserve of those who participated in the liberation struggle.

Clearly, Grace has no history with the liberation struggle. Both in her person or in her family, she cannot claim any name in it. For example, if she were to die today outside her husband’s decree, she would not qualify for heroe status in the criteria that is defined by Zanu PF.

Grace is a woman who is being used and abused and it is my sincere hope that before December she does take time to reflect before she makes what may be the most fatal mistake of her life.

Unlike the stories being thrown at her, she cuts out a pathetic figure of a woman who is failing to appreciate that her current position in society does not make her immune to the abuse that everyone else in society is subject to.

I pray that if she does read this article she will understand the advise that is well meant coming from one sister to another. If she decides to ignore the advice, she can never say one sister did not warn her.

Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga is the MDC secretary-general and a feminist writing in her personal capacity. She can be contacted at pmmushonga@gmail.com

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