ZANU PF politburo member Oppah Muchinguri has confirmed that her predecessor as the party’s women’s league boss First Lady Grace Mugabe is out of the country seeking treatment, as speculation over her absence from the public scene continues to grow.
In an interview with Southern Eye, Muchinguri said there was nothing wrong with Grace going out of the country for check-ups.
“The First Lady is a human being like any other person and just because she is the First Lady people talk,” she said.
“There is nothing wrong with her going out of the country for check-ups.”
Grace, who has been ever present at her husband’s side, has been conspicuous by her absence from public functions and President Robert Mugabe’s foreign trips, setting tongues wagging.
So far, the government had not said anything about Grace’s absence, but Muchinguri’s statement confirmed that she was unwell and was out of the country.
Early this year, Mugabe claimed his wife had an appendix operation, but this explanation is increasingly tenuous, as medical doctors described it as a simple procedure and that could not be the reason for her continued trips to Asia for treatment.
On his way to Japan, Mugabe passed through Singapore and he did the same on his way back, triggering speculation that he was attending to his ailing wife.
However, other sources claim Grace could be in Dubai, where her son is studying at the American University, where again she is said to be recuperating.
Grace, who dominated Zimbabwe’s political scene late last year soon after being nominated to lead the Zanu PF women’s league, has not made a public appearance since March 8, when she officiated at International Women’s Day commemorations, fuelling speculation that she could be facing serious health problems.
In January, Grace was forced to remain in Singapore after the First Family’s annual holiday, as her husband President Robert Mugabe returned home alone.
Grace has missed several local and regional meetings and functions, where her husband was a guest.
She has missed the official Algerian trip, where Mugabe presently is and the Namibian jaunt for the inauguration of new President Hage Geingob.
Sources said Mugabe was expected to fly to Asia to see Grace before returning home from Algeria.
On Tuesday, acting President Phelekezela Mphoko had to stand in for the First Lady when he received about $1,5 million worth of clothes and food stuffs from a South Africa-based non-governmental organisation Givers Foundation at State House.
The donation was for about 3 500 flood victims in the Hurungwe constituency.
Givers Foundation donated nappies for children at Grace’s Mazowe orphanage home, raising questions why she was unavailable to receive a donation for a cause so close to her heart.
It could not be established what Grace was suffering from, but sources said the First Lady was battling with cancer.