By Sij Ncube
HARARE, JULY 22 – FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe turns 50 Wednesday and a party meant for a queen has been lined up for Saturday to celebrate her jubilee, exactly about 20 she has been ensconced inside the State House after controversial marrying President Robert Mugabe.
Grace Marufu married Robert Mugabe in 1996.
However, to celebrate “this important milestone in her life”, the Amai Dr. Grace Mugabe @ 50 Organising Committee has organised a fundraising dinner dance on 25 July at the Blue Roof Residence, Borrowdale Brook, Mugabe’s Harare home.
Well-wishers have been invited to donate in cash and kind during the lavish dinner dance sources claim has attracted the who’s who in Zanu PF, business, commerce and industry who want to show their allegiance to the First Lady, seen as a crucial centre of power after she master-minded the oust of former vice president Joice Mujuru and her “cabal.”
Grace is now perceived to hold and wield immense power and has been rumoured to be behind the recent cabinet reshuffle which saw former information and broadcasting services minister Jonathan Moyo demoted to the less influential portfolio of higher and tertiary education.
Sources said all type of meat; drinks and eats would be on the house, including expensive whiskeys and wines. In fact those in the know say it will be a food and drinks galore.
But with poverty and joblessness reaching alarming levels in the country, her critics view the partying as a clear case of insensitive in a country where the majority of the population is surviving with less than a dollar a day.
The critics point out that more than one million people in southern Zimbabwe face starvation due to drought.
The partying also comes at a time when there is uncertainty in the job market after the Supreme Court has made it easy for employers to terminate workers contracts, a situation which has seen about 700 employees being axed without benefits early this week.
Trust Matsilele, a political analyst, says Mugabe and her husband lack sympathy of what is happening in the country.
“They are no different to the biblical Ahab and Jezebel who will do anything to enjoy plenty even at the expense of the poor masses who have now been driven from being street vendors to vagabonds and paupers. It is shameful that a First lady of a poor country could elevate her birthday at the expense of suffering masses,” he said.
Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson for MDC Renewal Team, described Grace as Zimbabwe’s modern day French queen Mary Antoinette, who upon being informed that the citizens of France had no bread to eat, she reportedly exclaimed “Let them eat cake“.
“I can picture her saying on being told that people have no meat saying why they don’t eat elephants. The opulence that Mugabe’s family is showing in its latter days is an insult and adding salt to the injury of poverty that they have caused to the people of Zimbabwe.
“It is mean, cruel and heartless for them to behave in this fashion, where they will eat life sized cakes and drink from life-size bottles whilst the rest of the nation has to make do with nothing.”
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesperson, chipped in saying it goes to show how insensitive and callous the Zanu (PF) kleptocracy has become.
“These people are not bothered one iota about the suffering of the majority of the people. All they want is to wine and dine and live as if there is no tomorrow. The beleaguered and faction – ridden Zanu PF regime is a curse on the nation of Zimbabwe. Surely, the country doesn’t deserve such a selfish, mean, corrupt and decadent lot to lead them. Zimbabwe certainly deserves better,” said.
Maxwell Saungweme, a development analyst closely following political and social development in Zimbabwe, said Grace and those around her have no touch with realities on the ground.
“They attack vendors and burn their wares in city centres yet they forget what caused this is poverty and lack of employment. In such midst of penury and poverty it’s only a very ignorant and insensitive person who then calls for donations for a birthday bash donations from the same companies that are closing shop and firing employees due to viability challenges. We have clueless and blind people on top,” he said.
But Zanu (PF) sympathisers are adamant Grace and her family are within their rights to celebrate her 50th birthday.
According to the Amai Grace Mugabe @ 50 organising committee, proceeds from the dinner dance would go to several charities, among them The Grace Mugabe Foundation, Danhiko Trust, Aids Counselling Trust, and The Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health, The Adult Literacy Organisation of Zimbabwe and Musha Mukadzi Zimbabwe Armed Forces Trust.