A TOP official in the MDC led by Welshman Ncube on Thursday petitioned the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, Transport minister Obert Mpofu and the Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo seeking the removal of First Lady Grace Mugabe’s pictures from most of the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (Zupco) buses.
Pilate Ndebele, the MDC’s Matabeleland South chairperson, said he decided to petition the Speaker as he was irked the State-owned Zupco for involving itself in Zanu PF’s succession politics by sticking large posters of First Lady on most of its buses.
A number of Zupco buses carry large posters of Grace written “in solidarity with Amai”, while others have posters of her husband, President Robert Mugabe.
Grace was recently nominated as the Zanu PF women’s league new boss, as well as into the party’s central committee, paving the way for her husband to appoint her to the powerful politburo, at the elective congress in December.
Ndebele said it was sad that Zanu PF had gone to the extent of personalising State property by reducing Zupco into party property.
He had said the campaigning for Grace through Zupco buses was a violation, abuse and undermining of State property.
In the letter addressed to Mudenda, copied to Mpofu and Chombo, Ndebele said because Zanu PF’s used State resources for its activities, this contributed to a public perception of a lack of distinction between the State and the ruling party.
“And now there seems to be failure to distinguish between government and the First Family,” he said.
“The wife of the president, Grace’s imagined or real rise to prominence within Zanu PF seems to be coming with a lot of expenses to the State.
“Her rise is of no concern, but what is worrying is when parastatals begin to be used to advance her interests.
“The pasting of her image on the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company buses raises a lot of questions and undesirable discord.”
Ndebele said Grace’s status as the First Lady did not warrant this sort of pontification, because she has had no contribution of note to the development of Zimbabwe.
“Instead, she has proved to be a liability on both international and local fronts,” he said.
Ndebele said in the international community, she was infamous for suppressing media as she was captured attacking a Hong Kong-based media practitioner a few months ago.
“Locally, she is popular (sic) for land grabbing, lavish spending while masses are languishing in dire poverty and lately her insults to those who liberated this country.
“It is, therefore, my belief and request as a citizen of Zimbabwe, that authorities should ensure the pulling down of Grace’s portrait from state owned transport service providers.”
He demanded to know if the First Lady, the First Family or Zanu PF were paying for the advertisement, arguing that the Grace was not in government and it was improper to have her picture on State property.
He suggested that only people like the late Vice-President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, Lookout Masuku and “all those national heroes who contributed immensely to the liberation of Zimbabwe deserve to have their faces on such State property”.
Mpofu recently defended the pasting of the First Lady’s pictures on Zupco buses, saying advertisers were free to place their adverts where they saw fit.