The absent commander-in-chief

Masola waDabudabu

LAST week Zimbabweans were subjected to a scandalous if not pathetic “meet the people tour” conducted by the one and only erudite Dr Comrade Amai Grace Mugabe.

The newly-capped doctor took time off from selling milk to showcase her political naïvety which is nurtured by an acute disconnection with reality.

Dr Amai managed to show an utter disregard of the people’s suffering as a result of her husband’s impudence in matters political and economic. In this part-charade and part-obscenity by the Doctor of Philosophy there was killing silence and surprising absence of her nonagenarian husband.

President Robert Mugabe was not there to provide moral support to Grace on her moment of reckoning as a political upstart. He was not there to moderate the excesses of his apprentice.

Historically, the so-called First Family has done things together except when there were some difficulties in the family. In the early ’80s Mugabe used to harangue his opponents at rallies with Sally on his side.

He would have looked lost if he left Sally to do the chores at home while he took to the podium to berate Joshua Nkomo for being “the father of dissidents”. Mugabe only started appearing on his own when Sally’s health was waning.

This situation was understandable and forgivable.

After officially marrying Grace, Mugabe went everywhere with his dotting wife. There was a semblance of a united family despite constant public scrutiny of their age difference.

Mugabe drew some inspiration from his imposing wife’s presence at rallies to berate Morgan Tsvangirai. During gruelling campaign trails Grace stood side by side with her husband. They visited unlikely places and did queer things together.

People admired the unity they fronted.

People used to joke that the two were conjoined at marriage by a desire to plunder Zimbabwe’s wealth together until death intervened. Mugabe could not go anywhere without the influential wife propping him up and prompting him on.

As reinforcement of the First Family’s desire to do things together, Mugabe took the drastic step of boycotting an European Union-Africa summit in Brussels after Grace was denied a visa. We all remember vividly what his spokesperson George Charamba said about the selective granting of visas for the two members of the First Family.

“What God has put together the EU is trying to separate. Do they expect the president to respect the EU and disrespect his own marriage?”

Surprisingly, Grace’s recent “meet the people” tour seems to have disregarded what God put together. Mugabe was not there when Grace was traversing the length and breadth of the country. She was seen in the company of other men (and women).

The nation held its breath as Grace raved and ranted with no Mugabe in sight. Was it Mugabe’s own way of giving his wife some slack for her to establish her own brand? Was it Mugabe’s expression of faith and confidence in his wife?

Or is it a case of there being trouble in paradise?

Maybe it was a case of the unforgiving cycle of life turning full circle. Maybe the spirit of Sally has finally found time and space to exert revenge on her cheating husband. Maybe the avenging spirits of the departed Ghanaian woman are now seeking restitution from Mugabe? Spectators can only imagine Grace doing unto Mugabe what Mugabe did unto a terminally ill Sally.

Could Grace be considering having meals away from home just because the culinary chéf at home has lost his mastery of mixing the ingredients for the royal cuisine? It is a possibility.

Mugabe says it was morally defensible for him to seek pleasure from his secretary as Sally was dealing with the pain of renal failure at home. It must be morally permissible for Grace to seek the company and attention of other people while Mugabe nurses his senility at home.

Grace’s sudden obsession with power indicates that things are not alright at the palace.

She has become a loose cannon that is misfiring without an aim at the right target. She is arrogantly saying so many wrong things with impunity and with a measure of reckless abandon.

She is openly ignoring Mugabe’s presidential and spousal powers as confirmation that she is now preparing for life without him. Her determination to replace Mugabe and also to find a suitable replacement for him is now so obvious.

Grace has also chosen the Zanu PF faction she wishes to work with. Her vituperations against the “Gamatox” faction and the company she keeps all save as clear indications that she is with the “Weevils”.

The likes of Didymus Mutasa and Vice-President Joice Mujuru are damned. Hail Jonathan Moyo, Chris Mutsvangwa, Saviour Kasukuwere, Oppah Muchinguri and others.

May the palace wars begin!

Masola waDabudabu is a social commentator