Grace Mugabe, the wife of the late Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe, raises sharp emotions within both the ruling party Zanu PF and the opposition.
Nicknamed Disgrace at the height of her power, she ia a businesswoman and a powerful political figure. She prefers to be called AMAI, meaning, mother of the nation.
Mnangagwa meets Mugabe
In March 1964 Robert Mugabe, a freedom fighter was tried for issuing subversive statements, the judge asked Mugabe to retract his statements, which he refused to do. So Mugabe was s found guilty and sent to Salisbury maximum security prison for 21 months.
While in prison, another inmate arrived. His name is Emerson Dumbudzo Mnangagwa, a member of the crocodile gang who was convicted of blowing up a train.
The two strike up a friendship that will be very important for the future of Zimbabwe.
Grace Gets Married To Stanley Gorereza
During this time, two migrants from Zimbabwe Johnston Marufu and his Ida Marufu wife traveled to apartheid South Africa, in search of work, they settle in a village called Benoni. On the 25th of July 1965, they give birth to their fourth child.
They name her Grace Ntombizodwa Marufu, who would later become Grace Mugabe. In 1975, Grace returns to Zimbabwe to join her mother, who had earlier left South Africa.
However, her father stayed behind, working to support his family in Zimbabwe. While in Zimbabwe Grace attended primary school in Chivhu and high school at Christa Mambo.
At the age of 19 Grace got married to Stanley Gorereza, an Air Force pilot. Together, they had a son called Russell.
Grace’s Affair With Mugabe
Later, Grace joined a college and got a secretarial qualification, which landed her a life changing job in the office of the president. At the office, Grace worked in a typing pool where she had regular close encounters with President Mugabe leading to one of the most significant office romances in Africa.
The affair paid off for Grace, as she got promoted from a typing pool to Mugabe’s personal assistant, a position that had her traveling with Mugabe on both foreign and domestic trip.
Things got serious, yielding two off-springs, a girl named Bona, after Mugabe’s mother and a boy, Robert Mugabe Jr. At the time, both were still married.
Mugabe was married to Ghananian born Sally Hayferon, a companion from his fighting days. Sally was beloved in the country for her revolutionary pedigree, kindness, and her concern for the poor.
However, none of that prevented Mugabe’s adulterous encounters with Grace. Sally from died of kidney failure in 1982. When he lost Sally, Mugabe lost his moral compass.
When the affair between Mugabe and Grace became public, Gorereza developed a drinking problem, leading to the end of the marriage.
In August 1986, 31 year old Grace married 72 year old Mugabe in a lavish mega marriage ceremony known as the mother of all weddings. The event was attended by over 6000 people, including Nelson Mandela, and several other heads of state, Grace, the former personal assistant to the president had now become the first lady of Zimbabwe.
The Rise Of Grace Mugabe
As First Lady, powerful men and women would grovel before Grace, and sing praises. Just the mere mention of her name would leave many quaking in their boots. She would later become the gateway to old Mugabe, deciding what Mugabe heard and what he responded to.
Mugabe dispatched Gorereza to China, claiming, to be sending him to further studies. On completion, Gorereza was posted to the Zimbabwean Embassy in Beijing, as a defense attache.
Gorereza served for 26 years at the station in Beijing, until his death, Mugabe was was not taking any chances.
Grace Mugabe’s Love Affairs
In the early years of her marriage, Grace struggled to emerge from Sally’s shadow. She was a quiet First Lady and not much was heard about her. She mainly focused on her charity work. However, quite early in her marriage. Her life was marred with rumors of extramarital affairs with various high profile businessmen in the capital.
Peter Pamire, a young, handsome, and upcoming businessman, died in an horrific accident in 1986. The same year, Grace married Mugabe. The death of Pamire has remained mysterious in Zimbabwe, with allegations that he was shot before the accident.
In fact, one intelligence officer reportedly revealed that he was part of a team that had been tasked to assassinate Pamire by Mugabe.
It is believed that Pamire was targeted because he was having an affair with Grace.
The most recent rumour of an affair was with Gideon Gono, who was the central bank governor , financial advisor and political ally of Mugabe/
Gono was also accused of having a five year affair with Grace. Mugabe reportedly found out about the affair, when his sister Sabina revealed the scandal on her deathbed, but refused to believe the allegations.
Mugabe later consulted his trusted bodyguard, who had sat in on the meeting with Sabina. The bodyguard said he knew, but he thought it was best to keep quiet. Later, he was found dead. Amid the speculations that he had been poisoned. When confronted about the alleged affairs, Grace denied all of them.
For 18 years, Grace devoted her energies to lavish shopping trips, rather than interfering in politics. Before travel bans were imposed on Zimbabwe’s elite Grace would borrow a plane from the National fleet and head of London.
She was a regular at Harrods where she spent over 40,000 pounds in a single afternoon, She once spent $75 000 in a single parish shop. She justified spending 1000s on her favorite designer shoes, saying, I have narrow feet, so I only wear Ferragamo.
During her daughter’s wedding in 2014, she splashed 3 million pounds of state funds on the event, treating herself to a 300,000 pound Rolls Royce for that occasion.
Before she married Mugabe, she used 500,000 pounds of government funds to build a 30 bedroom mansion, which she named Graceland’s.
She bought herself a $1.35 million ring. Then suddenly cancelled the purchase. After the diamond had already been prepared. She then demanded a refund from the dealer, telling him to wire the money to a bank account in Dubai.
The dealer refused because he believed it would be considered as money laundering, but agreed to reimburse the First Lady in installments in Zimbabwe and bank. The Furious Grace and her son Russell subsequently seized and occupied three of the dealer’s properties in the capital Harare, to teach him a great lesson. You do not mess with the Mugabe’s.
Grace’s Multiple Farms
in 2002 during Mugabe’s land reform, which involved the redistribution of firms, owned by white farmers, Grace was one of the beneficiaries. She personally evicted white farmers from a 2500 acre Iron Mask estate, creating the biggest dairy company in southern Africa called Alpha and Omega.
She purchased homes in Dubai, South Africa, and Malaysia, with further reports of property holdings in Hong Kong, including a diamond cutting business.
In 2013, Grace launched one of her most ambitious projects. The Amai Mugabe school, she contracted a Chinese company to construct the school, with funding from the Grace Mugabe Foundation, which was financed by taxpayers money.
In addition, the school used state funds through a STEM project , the government was paying school fees for 18 students, amounting to over 200,000 US dollars per year.
The Unstoppable Grace was also the mastermind behind the blue roof mansion, the official residence of Mugabe. The property sits on 44 acres with 25 bedrooms each with an en-suite, and a spa. Plus, a series of offices, with an estimated value of 10 million US dollars.
The opulent mansion was fenced off from the public and protected by a multimedia and security radar system. It was against the law to take pictures of the house.
WikiLeaks, said the full extent of Mugabe’s assets are unknown, but are rumored to exceed 1 billion US dollars.
Grace realised that at his age, Mugabe would soon be dead. Without him, it would be hard for her to protect all the wealth and maintain the lifestyle. So she thought about a life after Mugabe, and for this, she would have to attempt something that would make or break what they have built. Grace Mugabe was going to give an attempt to the highest office in the land, the presidency.
The Fall Of Grace Mugabe
In 2014, the ruling party Zanu-PF confirmed Robert Mugabe, as its candidate for the 2018 general election. At the time, Mugabe was 92 years old and had ruled the country for over 35 years, raising the possibility of Mugabe’s rule, lasting until 2023.
By 2018, Mugabe would be 99 years old. So Grace started scheming. First, she identified that in the event the president dies, the Zimbabwe constitution, says the vice president takes over.
So she had to become vice president by any means necessary. With the plan, she identified friends and allies. However, her political ambitions, split Zanu-PF apart, creating deep factions.
By 2014 the First Lady’s popularity had hit rock bottom.
In order to raise her status among Zimbabweans, Grace earned a PhD in sociology from the University of Zimbabwe, in a record three months.
Her thesis was titled: changing social structure and functions of the family, Nevertheless, her doctorate credentials were used on campaign material as she prepared to take over the leadership of Zanu PF women’s wing.
In August 2014, the Zanu PF Women’s League voted Grace as its chair, propelling her into the party’s in a supreme decision making body, the Politburo. The position allowed Grace to attack anyone in her way to the presidency.
Joyce Mujuru, a decorated veteran, a minister since 1980 and the vice president of Zimbabwe for 10 years, the widow of general Solomon Maduro, who died in 2011 under unclear circumstances on his farm.
Joyce enjoyed undeniable legitimacy, being the Vice President, she was the next in line, in case Mugabe died, making her a perfect target by Grace.
Grace, with the help of ED Mnangagwa, then Minister of Justice, launched a campaign against Joyce Mujuru. They labeled her and called her all sorts of names, alleging that she was a conspirator determined to avenge her husband’s death and seize power for herself.
In December 2014 Joyce lost her position in the party leadership. Shortly afterwards, Mugabe dismissed her from her post as vice president, along with eight ministers, thought to be close to her.
Mugabe replaced Mujuru with ED Mnangagwa, also known as Garwe, meaning crocodile in Shona language, popular among war veterans.
Mnangagwa, the former ally of Grace against Joyce, became the next target. By choosing Mnangagwa, Mugabe made things harder for himself.
Mnangagwa had the Lacoste group that comprised of some war veterans, while Grace formed the generation 40 or G 40, a group working on generational change by replacing the older officials of the party.
The group comprised of ambitious politicians who promoted themselves as younger savvy, and well educated set up of members. G40 intensified the plan to have Mugabe re-elected and have him resign in favor Grace.
And so, the showdown began. In early 2017, Grace took over Mugabe’s exhausting campaign for re-election as well as holding secret meetings planning how to neutralize Mnangagwa.
Things got intense between the two factions who had similar ideology views and vision.
During the campaign meetings, Mugabe frequently fell asleep as Grace and Mnangagwa tore each other apart.
In August 2017, during a Zanu PF youth rally in Gwanda, Mnangagwa consumed ice cream from Grace Mugabe’s dairy factory. After consumption, Mnangagwa fell seriously ill with vomiting and diarrhea.
With his life at risk, Mnangagwa was urgently airlifted to South Africa for emergency treatment. Rumors began to spread that he had died, but he later returned to Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa and his Lacoste faction accused Grace of lacing his ice cream with poison. When asked about this accusation, a few days later, Grace said:
Why would he want to kill Mnangagwa, who is Mnangagwa, why on this earth would I kill someone that my husband made.
On the sixth of November 2017, Mnangagwa was dismissed, excluded from the party and his personal bodyguard disarmed.
To Mnangagwa, this was an obvious message, that his arrest was imminent. So, the next day he left Harare, the capital disguised and headed for the Mozambican border in the company of his three sons and a handful of bodyguards.
With him was a Louis Vuitton bag containing 1000 US dollars in small bills that he used to bribe his way to Mozambique, and later Johannesburg in South Africa. While in exile Mnangagwa made a statement to Grace and Mugabe saying Zanu PF is not personal property for you and your wife to do as you please.
Now that the crocodile was out of the way, President Mugabe was scheduled to appoint his wife as vice president in a grand ceremony.
The firing of Chiwenga
Mugabe, fearing a coup d’etat fired the Chief of Army, General Constantine Chiwenga.
This was Mugabe’s biggest error in his 37 year presidency. The General had earlier criticized Mugabe saying:
The current purging, which is clearly targeting members of the party with deliberation background must stop forthwith.
He also threatened that the army would step in if Mugabe did not stop.
At the time of his firing, Chiwenga was heading back to Zimbabwe from China.On the 12th of November 2017, as he touched down at the airport, a squadron of police officers waited to arrest him.
However, Chiwenga was one step ahead of Mugabe.
Firstly, members of the Special Forces loyal to Chiwenga, disguised as airport maintenance staff, surrounded the police officers, with their weapons drawn.
Taken completely by surprise, the police officers were instantly disarmed, detained and their weapons taken away.
Chiwenga was then escorted off the plane, and driven straight to the army headquarters in Harare.
From there, Chiwenga made a phone call to President Mugabe saying:
What have you done?
What do you mean?
why did you try to arrest me?
I know nothing about it.
For chiwenga, this was the ultimate betrayal. So, the following day he reached out to Mnangagwa, together with other senior officers they launched Operation restore legacy, whose major purpose was to overthrow Mugabe, and prevent Grace ‘s appointment as Vice President.
On the 14th of November, Mugabe chaired his last meeting as president with his ministers.
That same day, Chiwenga placed Mugabe under house arrest before Grace could be inaugurated as the Vice President.
The morning of the 21st of November, MPs voted to dismiss Mugabe as President.
That same afternoon, Robert Mugabe resigned for a 10 million signing bonus legal immunity, and the promise that the couple’s property would not be seized. The next day, Emerson Managua returned to Harare.
His first gesture was to reward the three generals who ran the operation.
Chiwenga was appointed Vice President. Perence Shiri became the Minister of lands and Sibusiso Moyo took over as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
To this day, Grace does not understand how his plan could have gone so wrong.
On the sixth of September 2019 Robert Mugabe died aged 95 at Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore.
His death would be the last fight between the new president Mnangagwa and Grace.
The government under Mnangagwa , wanted Mugabe to be buried at the National Heroes acre, where a monument was constructed for him alongside other Zimbabwean heroes.
However, Greece wanted him buried at his ruler homestead in Kutama.
Mugabe was buried in a courtyard ceremony in his village, attended by 200 people.
Mnangagwa did not attend.
Grace failed to manage the numerous properties that she had amassed with many of the firm’s falling into disrepair or being offered up for lease.
Please watch the video above this post for more details.