Dr Mugabe wears many hats
FIFTY-TWO years ago in some small town in apartheid South Africa, a girl was born to migrant parents from across the northern border, itself a colony where black people were denied rights and treated as second class citizens.
The leader of the racist regime in her country of origin, Ian Douglas Smith had declared that he did not believe in black majority rule ever in Rhodesia — not in a thousands years.
Happily, he was proved wrong. Most miraculously, the girl born in Benoni, South Africa to migrant “Rhodesian” parents, would not only see self-rule — she is now the First Lady of the independent Republic of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans affectionately call her “Mother of the Nation” and she fits the bill effortlessly because apart from the office she holds as First Lady, she has demonstrated a deep concern and care for the people of Zimbabwe and in particular the vulnerable, disabled and orphaned. She added a feather to her cap, and another weight of responsibility, when she was asked to lead the Zanu-PF Women’s League. Saddled with so many roles, she is inevitably a celebrated personality from whom many people expect a lot.
But it is worthwhile to look back on the journey this woman has taken in the last 51 years.
Born on July 23, 1965, in South Africa, Dr Grace Mugabe was the fourth child in a family of five. In 1970 she moved back to Zimbabwe to live with her mother in Chivhu while her father stayed and worked in South Africa supporting his family from there.
The First Lady attended primary school in Chivhu and then proceeded to Kriste Mambo in Manicaland for her secondary education. Of her time growing up in rural Mashonaland East, the province from where both her parents come from, Dr Mugabe said that it was an eye opener for her as she had to adjust to rural life from the South African life she had known.
“I actually appreciate the experience I got there (rural areas). “Today I can easily identify with rural people. It made me the person I’m today,” she said.
In 1996 she married President Robert Mugabe. The couple has three children together: Bona, Robert Junior and Chatunga while she has another child, Russell Goreraza from her previous marriage.
Dr Mugabe said that growing up she was very close to her siblings and especially close to her mother Idah Marufu. This has impacted her relationship with her own children with whom she shares a similar bond.
She has extended this love to her work and the various initiatives she has undertaken to assist the underprivileged people of Zimbabwe as the Mother of the Nation.
In Mazowe, Dr Mugabe runs an orphanage where she takes care of orphans from around the country whom she has adopted.
There is also the Amai Mugabe Primary School which caters for around 200 pupils who benefit from the investments she has made in the school. Dr Mugabe is a woman with a generous heart and is one of the biggest philanthropists in Zimbabwe.
Not only does she have a generous heart but she runs successful businesses notably Alpha and Omega Dairy, which is a subsidiary of Gushungo Holdings.
The dairy company employs 500 people and has 2 000 dairy cattle with a capacity to produce 80 000 litres of milk per day.
Gushungo Dairy Farm also produces maize, soya beans, sugar beans and citrus. It is an example of the success of indigenous businesses and a project in line with the country’s economic blue print- Zim-Asset. Dr Mugabe is a graduate of the People’s University of China where she studied the
In 2014 she was awarded a PhD in Social Studies from the University of Zimbabwe.
Her career in politics began when she was nominated for the post of Secretary for the Zanu-PF Women’s League in 2014. Following this nomination, the First Lady went on a “Meet the People” tour to the various provinces. At the rallies Dr Mugabe showed her resolute nature by denouncing faction-
alism and was instrumental in rooting out the foiled attempt by former Vice President Joice Mujuru to usurp power from President Mugabe. At the congress held in December 2014, she was appointed Secretary for the Women’s League.
Dr Mugabe is a remarkable woman who has committed her time, effort and resources to the people of Zimbabwe.-Bulawayo Bureau