Zim First Lady’s ‘disGraceful’ behaviour slammed
HARARE – She prides herself as a “violent person”, yet Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe wants to be seriously taken as “mother of the nation”.
As the multi-sectoral charitable foundation patron gleefully told South African television host Dali Tambo that she had “chased and pounded” a British photographer, the 47-year-old businesswoman’s remarks have sparked outrage as they also expose an uncanny streak she shares with her 89-year-old hubby President Robert Mugabe — known for his “degrees in violence” salvor.
As such, ordinary Zimbabweans and analysts have not only expressed shock at this appalling, and disgraceful behaviour, but also said it was unfitting for someone who is supposed to be a role model.
“They saw us and started running towards us. I said, ‘No, enough is enough, why are you treating us like this? What wrong have I done?’
“I noticed that one of my bodyguards was talking to a man holding a camera,” she said.
“He told me that they were arguing because the photographer was refusing to give back pictures he had been taking of me and the children.”
“What he didn’t know is that I am a sprinter. … So I ran after him and I caught him. I started beating him. He was pleading with me to get the camera, please, I didn’t answer so I kept on punching him. I did not listen to him and continued beating him up.”
McDonald Lewanika, a civil society activist and academic, said the First Lady’s bragging rights were shocking.
“The behaviour is shocking and needs to be condemned, taking pride in the act is not only shameful for a lady in such a position but disgraceful,” Lewanika said. “One wonders what kind of a lesson she intends to teach us and our kids as the mother of the nation.
“Violence in any form — whether in politics, in the home or on a street in Paris as a way of solving disputes has no place in modern society.”
Kumbirai Mafunda, a media practitioner, said her behaviour was unbecoming of a public figure.
“As much as I understand the First Lady’s concern about her right to privacy when it comes to journalists’ scrutiny, she must not never forget that she is a public figure, whether in Harare, Zvimba, Guatemala or even in Mars,” he said.
“Naturally, any assault of media practitioners is not something that this lowly newspaperman would celebrate just in the same way that I will not justify an attack on a politician or his or her wife.”
The First Lady claimed she ran after the photographer to protect her children and as a protest against British sanctions which she said hurt her children’s education.
Her husband interjected, saying she would have done more to do away with the “annoying” photographer.
Nhlanhla Ngwenya, the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwean chapter director, said the First Lady’s remarks was reflective authorities’ attitude towards cases of violence against the media.
“It is actually shocking that someone in authority could brag about being violent with the media,” he said.
“Now, we understand why no action has been taken against such cases.
“I think she could have approached the responsible authorities if she felt violated, the journalist was just doing his job and I don’t see anything wrong.
“The fact that the president interjected and backed her is a bit worrisome. I think it went past normal.” – Sharon Muguwu and Tarisai Machakaire