PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace has inadvertently admitted having sway over the state President’s decision making, telling the State controlled Sunday Mail newspaper there was no force that could stop her from becoming cabinet minister.
In a wide-ranging interview with the government controlled weekly to mark her 50th birthday, Grace said she had been inundated with requests from unnamed individuals to take up a ministerial post but turned them down.
“There has been speculation out there that Mugabe’s wife is going to be (Cabinet) minister,” said the first lady.
“Yes, I have been approached. Some people approached me, saying they wanted to go to the President and tell him that you (First lady) can be appointed minister.
“But I have declined.”
Grace, since marrying President Mugabe two decades ago, has stayed away from active party politics.
She surprised all and sundry when she was last year catapulted to being Zanu PF women’s league boss with potential challengers shrinking back for fear of being victimised for challenging the President’s wife.
The garrulous first lady was widely thought to be groomed to take over from her ageing husband after it became apparent President Mugabe, 91, was increasingly losing trust in his ambitious lieutenants.
But Grace denied in the interview that she harboured any presidential ambitions.
But what became more apparent was President Mugabe’s intentions to thrust her into the women’s affairs government portfolio, a post he deliberately left vacant when redeployed then minister Oppa Muchinguri to a different portfolio.
President Mugabe only filled the position early this month with the appointment of Nyasha Chikwinya as minister.
But Grace, who together with her husband, run a thriving dairy business and an orphanage, gave away the intense haggling that could have been heating up behind the scenes, insisting she declined the offer.
“I have said no because I have so much already on my plate. I don’t want to take up that position. I personally feel I have a lot to do as First Lady,” she said.
“I would rather that position be given to someone else. This is me. If I had really wanted, if I had been so ambitious as they say, I would have said yes I want to be.”
The first lady has in the past few months been accused of usurping the powers of the state president, at one time revealing the country’s two vice presidents take notes whenever she addresses them.
President Mugabe denies his much younger wife has any influence over cabinet choices and related decisions but his wife speaks differently, adding nothing stood in her way.
“There was nothing to stop me anyway, but I said no because I do not want to,” Grace said.
“I am the First Lady and I have business to run, and also have charity work. I would want to give time to all these things I have mentioned.”