Saturday 20 October 2018

It's time to stop blaming Grace Mugabe

It is unfair to blame Zimbabawe's former president's wife for his misdeeds

LEADING LADY: Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace follow proceedings during a youth rally in Zimbabwe Photo: AP
LEADING LADY: Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace follow proceedings during a youth rally in Zimbabwe Photo: AP

Panashe Chigumadzi

As former president Robert Mugabe and his second wife, Grace, prepare to make their exit from Zimbabwe's State House, Zimbabweans have hankered for 'Amai' (Mother) Sally, his late first wife, who is fondly remembered as a "very sensitive and intelligent woman" who may have been a "restraining influence" on her husband.

On the day of the military intervention earlier this month, the veteran South Africa-based Zimbabwean journalist Peter Ndoro tweeted: "As developments continue to unfold in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe might be looking back and wondering if his rule wasn't a tale of two wives. One that died too soon and the other that ended up being his Achilles heel."

With almost 2,000 retweets, it is the kind of misogynist narrative that has found an easy resonance in many quarters of a country that has been ruled by the heavy hand of a patriarchal nationalist tradition for nearly four decades. Across the many rallies and marches in Zimbabwe, many people sang "Hatidi kutongwa nehure" [We do not want to be ruled by a whore]. Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairman Chris Mutsvangwa described Grace Mugabe as "clinically mad" and Temba Mliswa, a member of parliament from the ruling Zanu-PF party, has claimed "Robert Mugabe's legacy has been destroyed by his wife. He's old, he's ageing, and they've taken advantage of him."

Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss