HARARE – President Robert Mugabe has called for an urgent family members meeting to discuss the First Lady Grace’s deteriorating health as more pictures emerge.
A picture depicting a frail-looking First Lady Grace Mugabe has gone viral.
The picture, which appears to have been taken inside State House, shows Grace looking very wasted standing next to another woman, whose face could not be identified as she was looking away from the camera.
President Robert Mugabe was seated on a sofa, shaking hands with a man wearing a shirt with South African national flag colours. Presidential spokesperson George Charamba was not reachable to clarify on the authenticity of the pictures.
Grace’s health has remained a mystery with sources claiming that she was out of the country where she was receiving medical treatment.
The picture went viral on social media yesterday, particularly WhatsApp and Facebook. Mugabe in January told Zanu PF supporters who had gathered at Harare International Airport to welcome him back home from the Far East where he had spent six weeks holidaying that Grace had remained in Singapore recovering from surgery to remove a nagging appendix.
But a few days after Grace returned home, she reportedly slipped out of the country to Dubai to receive further treatment, triggering speculation that she was suffering from a more serious ailment than appendicitis as her husband had said.
Close sources claimed Grace was battling colon cancer which has metastasised. Last year, Grace dominated Zimbabwe’s political space after her nomination to lead the Zanu PF Women’s League. But this year, Grace has not made a public appearance since March 8 when she officiated during commemorations to mark International.
A deadly cocktail of uncertainty, panic and fear has gripped many notable Zanu PF officials who either rose up their party structures or clung onto their positions at the height of the ruling party’s ugly infighting last year, riding on the coat-tails of influential but now ailing First Lady Grace Mugabe.
This comes as Grace’s withdrawal from the public domain over the past four weeks, as well as the unexplained extent of her illness, continues to set tongues wagging — with Zimbabweans speculating furiously about her well-being and what this means for President Robert Mugabe, Zanu PF and the country.
Mugabe’s normally publicity-mad wife has not been seen in public since early this month, and was recently reported to be unwell by her top ally and politburo member Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri — who, however, did not give details about the extent of Grace’s illness.
The first lady also underwent what her husband said was an appendix operation in Singapore late last year — even though this supposedly minor procedure kept her away from the country for more than two months, recuperating.
Well-placed Youth and Women’s League sources who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said many officials in the two structures who were close to Grace were now allegedly being bullied and victimised by their more powerful colleagues who had not benefitted from the first lady’s combative politics of the past few months.
In the meantime, Grace herself apparently returned to Zimbabwe from Dubai on Friday aboard an Emirates flight, but did not — once again, accompany her globe-trotting husband who left the country on Saturday, first for Tanzania, and then for Ethiopia — choosing instead to retreat to the First Family’s “Blue Roof” Borrowdale mansion.
“Many of us who are close to Dr Amai (Grace) and others who benefitted from her dramatic entry into formal politics last year are reeling at the moment in her absence. We fear that things could get worse for everyone if Dr Amai does not return to her (Women’s League) duties soon,” a Youth League official said.
Analysts also concurred yesterday that her continuing failure to attend to her duties would not bode well for her Zanu PF faction, with Maxwell Saungweme saying her dramatic entry into formal politics last year had created another centre of power in the ruling party, thereby weakening it.
“To some extent, this undermined the power that her husband wielded in the eyes of many,” Saungweme said, adding that her prominent role in the ouster of former Vice President Joice Mujuru had created more problems for Mugabe and heightened factionalism in Zanu PF.
“Grace became a centre of power, her husband is another, the Gang of Four is another, (Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa is another and Mujuru and her Gamatox crew are another centre of power.
“Her absence really deals a blow to her own centre of power and her hangers-on such as (newly-appointed minister of State for Masvingo Shuvai) Mahofa.
“She created a lot of confusion which she can no longer properly manage during her extended absence. The more she is out of the picture, the more the confusion is for her followers, the party and the country,” Saungweme said.
Contacted for comment yesterday about the whereabouts and state of health of Grace, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said, “I am in a meeting and I will send a statement later”.
Senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga, said Grace should leave politics and rest, “instead of creating confusion”.
“She has immense influence in the party and there is a perception that she is a centre of power and clearly her allies are worried about her prolonged absence.
“However, this has no major political implications. Given that she is unwell, the best decision for her when she comes back would be to leave politics altogether and concentrate on her well-being and that of her family,” Mavhinga said.
Meanwhile, according to sources close to the family, Russell Goreraza, Grace Mugabe’ son, who openly quarreled with Robert, 91 for wrecking his family told the ageing president to sort the issue of his mum’s health first or else face the consequences.
It has been revealed that, Mugabe then reached out to his family elders to discuss the problems that have befallen the family.The meeting is to be held at his Zvimba homestead upon his return from Ethiopia.Some spirit mediums are also reported to have been hired from Gokwe.
Contrary to President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace’s claims upon her return from an extended stay in Singapore six weeks ago that she only had an operation to remove a nagging appendix, close family sources say she is suffering from a much more serious ailment – colon cancer.
Family sources say about 30cm of her colon (large intestine) affected by cancer was removed during the operation.
Grace, who is Zanu-PF Women’s League boss, left the country last week on Wednesday via South Africa to a yet unknown destination.
Grace, a mother of five is also believed to be suffering from a mental breakdown.
“It’s the fear of how he lost his first wife Sally and the pressure from Russell”, a family source said.
Sally died on 27 January 1992 from kidney failure. Upon her death she was buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare. – thezimbabwenewslive.com