FIRST lady Grace Mugabe returned home Sunday from the Far East and was welcomed by cabinet ministers and thousands of Zanu PF supporters.
The government-controlled Herald newspaper described Grace’s return as “Breaking News”.
The First Lady was accompanied by her soon-to-be 91 year-old husband who chartered an Air Zimbabwe plane to fly to the Far East and pick her up.
Officials insist that the presidency pays the financially crippled Air Zimbabwe for the charters.
Grace was, according to the husband, recovering from a surgical procedure.
Although presidential spokesman George Charamba dismissed media inquiries about her lengthy absence saying she was a “private citizen” who did not have to account for her activities to anyone, several cabinet ministers turned up to welcome her at Harare International Airport.
Those who lined up to welcome Grace included Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Senate president Edna Madzongwe, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, ministers Simon Khaya Moyo, Miriam Chikukwa, Oppah Muchinguri, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and service chiefs.
Addressing the gathered supporters, Grace opened up about her health challenges, revealing that the latest surgery is the third one after undergoing the first operation in 1986 to remove tonsils and the second one in 1996 when she had gall bladder surgery.
She, however, insisted that she was in fine fettle.
The Mugabes left Harare for their annual holiday mid-December last year with the president returning home without his wife on January 22.
President Robert Mugabe, criticised for allegedly living it up in Singapore while the country was buffeted by flooding and the never-ending economic crisis, apologised saying his extended stay in the Far East was due to Grace’s illness.
“Mai [Mrs] Stop-It had pain in her side which was nagging her,” Mugabe said referring to his wife by her nickname.
“It was found that she has appendicitis. She had a successful operation the day before yesterday and is now recuperating in hospital.”
Grace’s continued stay in Singapore raised eyebrows amid, media speculation that her condition had not improved.
But Charamba last week said the media had no business enquiring about the First Lady’s whereabouts because she was not a civil servant.
“She is not a civil servant; she is not a constitutional officer. Why do you pry into the life of a private citizen in the name of news?” Charamba said in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
He added: “The first lady’s title is not a status that would make her accountable to you and me; where have you seen enshrined in the Constitution that there shall be a First Lady whose availability shall be known to the media.
“She has absolutely no reason to account for her presence or absencezvamchose; hapatomborina at law or in actual practise.”
First Family living it up in the Far East