FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe, repeatedly criticized for her lavish shopping sprees, told her supporters Thursday that she now skips meals in solidarity with thousands of Zimbabweans facing hunger.
At a rally held in a poor Harare’s poor Mbare neighbourhood, Grace told supporters on she was skipping some of her meals to empathize with Zimbabweans who could only afford to eat once a day.
The World Food Program in August said 1. 5 million Zimbabweans needed food assistance because of recurring droughts.
She however assured Zanu PF supporters that they would have a good Christmas because she brought “goodies”— tons of maize and rice.
Meanwhile, Grace also hit out at Zanu PF rivals she accuses of plotting her ouster as party women’s league chair for allegedly disparaging war veterans.
She admitted simmering tensions fuelled within Zanu PF, largely over the succession of her 91-year-old husband.
President Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980 and party leautenants are angling to take over as he increasingly shows signs of being weakened by age and reported poor health
Grace, thought to be interested in replacing her husband, defiantly challenged rivals to kill her if they wanted to silence her from condemning factionalism in the party.
“Vakajaira kublackmaila vamwe vanhu (they are used to blackmail),” Grace said.
“They get so offended if someone states a fact. If you say something they are quick to say you hate war veterans.
“Let me tell you, you are not gonna get me. I have my mouth, you only silence me by shooting me and killing me. You are not gonna silence me!”
I won’t be silenced
The First Lady said if she harboured any ill feelings against the country’s liberators, she could start by poisoning her own husband she fondly described as a great hero who endured more than a decade during colonial rule.
Although she never mentioned any name, it is widely believed Grace’s diatribe was intended for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is firming up to succeed President Mugabe.
Grace infuriated war veterans a couple of weeks ago when she railed against party rivals who had allegedly discarded their disciplinary conduct as was imparted during the war, in attempts to ascend to power.
The garrulous First Lady skipped her planned Masvingo rally after she was warned of an impending demonstration against her.
Turning away from her diatribe against party rivals, the Zanu PF women’s league boss also claimed some local journalists wanted bribes from her so that they could take off their spotlight on her.
“I like you (journalists) a lot. I know you can’t do without me; I am back, I am back!” she said with a light giggle.
“Someone said I was being vilified by the media because I do not pay but I said I don’t pay bribes. Instead, I give out rice, maybe they are starving.”
Grace’s Harare rally was attended by a dozen party MPs from Harare and some top party officials.
The usually filthy environs of the crowded township were spruced up for her rally.
The normally teeming vending stalls around the area were conspicuously empty with signs the traders were all ordered to attend the rally.
She disappointed many when she failed to parcel out freebies as has now become characteristic of her provincial tours, instead promising to send them through party structures at a later date.
AP I Staff Reporter via New Zimbabwe