Shabby State House has ‘no space’ for Ts­van­gi­rai

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD - PETA THORNYCROFT

HARARE: Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mu­gabe, says there is no va­cancy at State House and Move­ment for Demo­cratic Change (MDC-T) leader Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai “is dream­ing” if he thinks he will be the next pres­i­dent af­ter the July 31 elec­tions.

Grace Mu­gabe, who re­cently built and opened the most ex­pen­sive pri­vate school in Zimbabwe, does not live at State House.

She and her hus­band live in a R100 mil­lion man­sion in the top Harare sub­urb, Bor­row­dale, which is main­tained by the state, though it is their pri­vate prop­erty.

State House is a very much smaller, colo­nial-style house com­pared with the Mu­gabe man­sion, which has three floors and ex­ten­sive grounds with lakes and a he­li­pad.

State House is still used for state ban­quets and of­fi­cial meet­ings. It is close to the Harare town cen­tre, but is in need of main­te­nance.

Ad­dress­ing thou­sands of peo­ple at a “star rally” at Glen­dale, 50km north of Harare this week, ahead of elec­tions, Mu­gabe’s wife said the MDC-T leader was not lead­er­ship ma­te­rial.

“I want to re­peat what I said in 2008. There is no va­cancy at State House. It is oc­cu­pied full­time.”

The rally was held at a school, which is il­le­gal, ac­cord­ing to Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter David Coltart.

Re­fer­ring to Ts­van­gi­rai’s love life, Grace Mu­gabe told Zanu- PF sup­port­ers at the rally that lead­er­ship was not about chang­ing women or go­ing on hol­i­day – in ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to Ts­van­gi­rai’s busy love life af­ter his wife Su­san was killed in a car crash in 2008. Last year Ts­van­gi­rai mar­ried El­iz­a­beth Macheka.

Mu­gabe said her hus­band was a hard- work­ing leader who re­mained res­o­lute on what he be­lieved was best for the peo­ple of Zimbabwe.

Robert Mu­gabe him­self, 89 but still look­ing fit, told the rally Zanu-PF should avoid the mis­take it made in 2008 when it lost two con­stituen­cies in Mashona­land Cen­tral prov­ince to Ts­van­gi­rai’s MDC – in­clud­ing the one where the rally was held.

He was ac­com­pa­nied at the rally by Vice-Pres­i­dent Joice Mu­juru, who many think will take over the pres­i­dency within a year or two if Mu­gabe wins.

He re­minded thou­sands of Zanu- PF sup­port­ers, who laughed heartily when Mu­gabe de­scribed Ts­van­gi­rai as “po­lit­i­cally ugly”, that he had started his elec­tion ral­lies in Mashona­land Cen­tral be­cause of the re­gion’s rich lib­er­a­tion his­tory.

Af­ter the rally Grace Mu­gabe do­nated food to or­phans and the el­derly in the Chi­weshe dis­trict.

This dis­trict wit­nessed one of the worst sin­gle acts of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence af­ter the pre­vi­ous elec­tions in 2008, when Zanu- PF learned that Ts­van­gi­rai had eas­ily beaten Mu­gabe in the pres­i­den­tial poll – and had won in Chi­weshe, which Zanu-PF re­garded as a strong­hold.

Four­teen MDC sup­port­ers were beaten and hacked to death in day­light in front of their fam­i­lies and vil­lagers.

No one has been ar­rested, al­though the iden­ti­ties of some of the per­pe­tra­tors were widely known.

PIC­TURE: AP

DIS­MIS­SIVE: Robert Mu­gabe, left, and his wife Grace at the Zanu-PF rally in Glen­dale, Zimbabwe.

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