Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Cde Faber Chidarikire has come under fire for referring to Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife as the Acting First Lady with analysts saying the minister had raised the “boot-licking bar to intolerable proportions.”
They said Cde Chidarikire’s remarks border on corruption that comes with over extending loyalty to an individual for future benefits.
Analysts said it was unheard of the world over that one can be referred to as such because the First Lady’s position was not a constitutional post, but a privilege of being the President’s wife.
Cde Chidarikire made the stunning remarks during a party thrown by Cde Prisca Mupfumira in Chinhoyi at the weekend to celebrate her elevation to the Zanu-PF Politburo and her appointment as Public Service, Labour and Social Services Minister.
This comes hot on the heels of another gaffe by the ZANU-PF secretary for production and labour Cde Josiah Hungwe who recently likened Cde Mnangagwa to Jesus Christ.
It is understood that Cde Chidarikire who was tasked to introduce Cde Auxilia Mnangagwa who was the Guest of Honour at the party, referred to her as the Acting First Lady because his husband is the Acting President since President Mugabe is away. Although Cde Chidarikire told our sister paper The Sunday Mail that it was only a joke, analysts who spoke to The Herald yesterday said Cde Chidarikire was wrong and his remarks displayed sheer ignorance of protocol.
Harare-based commentator Mr Godwine Mureriwa said: “It borders on corrupt tendencies as it is over extending loyalty to an individual and it is complicating the operations of VP Mnangagwa.
“First Lady position is not constitutional. Powers of the First Lady are merely respecting the family relationship that she has with the sitting President, thus it has no legal standing.”
Mr Mureriwa said Zimbabweans should now move beyond politics of bootlicking and sloganeering and direct their efforts towards implementation of Zim-Asset.
He said there was no reward for bootlicking as recognition was only accorded to those who worked to ensure full implementation of Government policies. Mr Mureriwa equated Cde Chidarikire’s remarks to Cde Hungwe’s hero worshipping of Cde Mnangagwa.
“It is the same mistake that was made by Cde Hungwe,” he said.
“The positions of Vice President are appointments courtesy of the President through the powers given to him by Congress.” Mr Mureriwa said there was a worrying trend in Zanu-PF that people thought that if a person was elevated to the Politburo or Presidium, he or she was next in line for the top office.
“That was the mistake that was made by the former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her cabal,” he said.
Bulawayo based analyst Dr Lawton Hikwa, said Cde Chidarikire was wrong. He said a country had only one First Lady.
“Protocol says a country has one His Excellency and the only other person who can be called by that title is an ambassador who will be representing a Head of State in another country,” he said.
“It does not occur that the spouse of His Excellency can be represented by someone even if her husband is the Acting President.
“When the Head of State is away, out of the country as is the case with us now, there is an Acting President but it does not follow that his spouse becomes the Acting First Lady.”
Dr Hikwa said it was highly likely that Cde Chidarikire’s remarks were out of total ignorance of protocol or it was mere excitement without knowing the consequences of such reckless statements.
“It is erroneous and it is unacceptable in diplomatic protocol. Possibly it was out of excitement or ignorance.”
Another analyst who refused to be named chided Cde Chidarikire saying as the President’s representative in Mashonaland West, he should be sensitive to such kind of jokes.
“Assuming that it was a genuine joke, Cde Chidarikire should, as a senior Government official in the province, know the repercussion that comes with such statements,” said the analyst.
“We expect people of his stature to respect the First Lady and that should not be allowed in future.”
Recently, Cde Hungwe drew a backlash after he referred to Cde Mnangagwa as the Son of Man with analysts saying such statements could result in multiple centres of power.