My Turn: Abuse of First Lady’s name

The First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe

The First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe

With Tichaona ZIndoga
There was a brawl at the National Heroes Acre during the burial of Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu over the weekend. While it is preposterous to declare that the incident “overshadowed” the event, or indeed “jolted” the ruling Zanu-PF, one thing is quite clear.

The brawl, it has emerged, stemmed from a factional battle that is apparently underway in the ruling Zanu-PF, or more specifically, clashes between young zealots who are purporting to be fronting different leaders in the party.

In this case, the clashes, according to NewsDay which quoted Zanu-PF Commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, happened after a “physical attack on party members who went to the burial wearing campaign T-shirts carrying President Mugabe and the late former Vice-President Joshua Nkomo’s picture on the front and a message praising the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe on the back.

There is scant doubt that this was a factional clash and more evident is the abuse of the name of the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe.

This is not for the first time: her name has been abused in ways more than one and for different political causes — if evolving ones.

Let us demonstrate the streak of abuse for those that may not have appreciated it.

Before we got to know factionalism as it lately manifested in the ruling party and it was Zanu-PF vs the opposition — rather than Zanu-PF vs Zanu-PF — the name of the First Lady was used by the opposition as an object of hate and ridicule, mostly unfairly.

The idea was to portray the First Lady as some kind of the infamous Queen Marie-Antoinette of yore, hoping to shore up anger against her.

The hope was to use the same anger and acrimony to torpedo her husband, President Mugabe.

The First Lady may have married a politician, and with it comes all the mud, but certainly it is unfair and cowardly for the opponents of her husband to try to fight him by proxy.

The second streak of abuse happened at the height of the factional wars in the ruling party last year, during which period the First Lady announced herself as a politician in her own right.

She made a mark for herself by denouncing a clique led by disgraced former Vice President Joice Mujuru which was bent on unconstitutionally removing President Mugabe from office and was heavily involved in corruption.

It is clear that the First Lady was doing this for, and in herself, as a politician, and in the filial interest of the President.

As it turned out, her crusade was hijacked by yet another clique of individuals who went on to use her name to achieve political ends.

This was self-evident.

Connected to this has been the extortionist and criminal streak as some unscrupulous individuals fleeced people and organisations in the name of the First Lady.

Dubious trusts and funds were created in the name of the First Lady and equally dubious housing schemes purporting to glorify the name of Amai Mugabe were created.

As we speak, some of these unscrupulous individuals are facing the music.

It also goes without mention that those that felt aggrieved by the First Lady actively objectified her and went directly against President Mugabe.

This is where one Jabulani Sibanda comes in.

In October last year, Sibanda infamously said that the First Lady had staged a “bedroom coup”.

Interestingly, some sections of the polity have increasingly sought to portray Amai Mugabe as the power behind her husband’s throne and this somewhat reached a crescendo when the firebrand politician revealed that Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko consulted her.

In light of the evolving succession fights in Zanu-PF, the First Lady’s name has loomed large, again — and abused.

You can situate the brawl at the Heroes Acre in it.

Lately, there are some factionalists who have been wearing T-shirts with whatever message they want but refrained by the legend, “Munhu wese kuna Amai”.

It is unfortunate, as ever as it is sickening.

It becomes even more shocking and unfortunate that Zanu-PF members resort to using the name of the First Lady, especially for factional advancement.

The first thing is that it shows us the bankruptcy of those behind the gimmick.

Secondly, this inadvertently besmirches President Mugabe.

If a Zanu-PF member uses the First Lady’s name it means that they are telling us that the principal in the party, President Mugabe, is no longer the centre of power.

This in turn means that whoever does so is as good as the opposition to President Mugabe.

We all know the history of those who seek to portray President Mugabe as losing grip of leadership.

They are the opposition — including the likes of Jabulani Sibanda.

Effectively, whoever was wearing, and is to be seen wearing, a T-shirt and otherwise distributing or bearing the message purporting to glorify Amai Mugabe is impugning President Mugabe.

You cannot have a T-shirt commanding the people to rally behind the First Lady when the President is there.

That is called promoting factionalism and those behind the messaging must be frowned upon.

They should be made to face the music — the same music that those that were stealing in the name of the First Lady are now variously facing.

They are political crooks.

Worse than that, they are singing from the same script with the opposition — albeit in different languages.

Where the opposition is, and has been, calling on President Mugabe to resign or vacate office on the grounds of age or alleged misgovernance, the Zanu-PF factionalists are seemingly acknowledging the same and putting to us the First Lady as the centre of power.

This is a serious issue.

While those that have been following this innocently are called upon to reconsider the weight and implication thereof, there is also an instructiveness to making sure that those that have been propagating this worldview be brought to book.

Abusing the name of the First Lady is bad enough but impugning President Mugabe is a serious crime that should not go unpunished.

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