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Perspective: Grace Mugabe Hits Back At Critics

Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe addresses party supporters at a rally in Gweru about 300 kilometres south west of the capital Harare, Friday, Sept, 1, 2017. Mugabe made her first public statement since been accused of assaulting a young model in in neighbouring South Africa, but she steered clear of the incident in her comments. Grace Muagbe appeared with her 93 year old husband at a political rally ahead of next years elections(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)


“AMAZING GRACE”

Former Zimbabwean First Lady …. Grace Mugabe 

“I am not devoid of love” Grace Mugabe

In a wide ranging undated interview the former first lady of Zimbabwe who has been characterized as being extravagant and labeled a “Gucci Grace” by being portrayed in the Western Press as a spindrift has dismissed her critics.  ” This negative image she vehemently denies …” I have developed a thick skin and immune to these lies”.  The former first lady of Zimbabwe was speaking openly in a no holes barred interview monitored by Vision’s SIC Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie carried on YouTube and aired worldwide.

Designer Clothes 

” I buy a lot of material and give out some to be made and sew some myself. I sketch out some of the styles I want. I make some of my own scarves and head wraps.  Reports that I shop at top stores for designer clothes are false.

Marriage To Mugabe 

“I was working in the president’s office as part of a secretarial pool and that is where Mugabe began showing an interest in me ”
We got married and a large amount of people attended … many crashed the wedding. It was a simple wedding with thousands in attendance.”

Rebuffed 

I initially rebuffed his advances as he was still married, although his wife was ailing. My aunt intervened and convinced me to engage in the relationship.  Being a shy person, and him being married bothered me” she (Grace) frankly stated in a dignified tone. ” We kept our relationship as discreetly as possible initially.

A Widespread Interview

“I run an orphanage and I have a school in my name. I plan to build a university.  My house that they referred to as a Palace has only nine rooms and took us many years to be constructed and is still unfinished.  You see we are farmers. I am a business minded person … we have dairy … some 2000 cattle, mainly cows some of which are donated to us.  We plant wheat, maise and related crops.”

Rumours 

Grace Mugabe responded to rumours that they owned property overseas. She firmly dismissed this claim. “We have no property outside the country … my husband is unflappable … he is cool and is a quiet person … I do most of the talking”.   Continuing she looked straight at the interviewer:  “My husband is a civil servant with a modest salary.  It is our businesses that bring us extra income.”  Responding to her relationship with her husband she said: “I am not devoid of love … life has its ups and downs.  I am fortunate for what I am today.  Also honoured to be one chosen to be the first lady.

Attack

She admitted to attacking a journalist whom she felt “was invading her privacy.” She did not elaborate.  There have been reports that she had assaulted the media.  We cannot independently confirm or deny any of these reports apart from what she admitted to.

Bad Press

Mrs Grace Mugabe further stated: ” They do not want to portray a positive image of me.  I do not do things solely for publicity.  She has been likened to First Lady Imelda Marcus of shoes notoriety of the Philippines or Queen Maria Antoinette of France noted for her extravagance. She was beheaded by the guillotine.

Commentary

We found Grace Mugabe to be very open and are prepared to say it was a no holes barred interview. She was in our view
attractive,  alert, assertive,  and articulate.  It is our hope that our report of this interview was balanced and did justice to what the first lady of Zimbabwe wanted to convey.  We would like to say that we were not about to repair or destroy the image of Mrs Grace Mugabe.  Our commitment to the truth and nothing else ..  the truth was our only objective.  Without fear or favour was our aim.

Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International Correspondent & photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.  

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