PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace has revealed that, like all normal couples, she often fights with her husband but said they remained ‘very, very close’ adding her husband was also her best friend.
In an extensive interview with the Sunday Mail, the First Lady spoke about her relationship with Mugabe and also addressed various other issues including her alleged extravagance, business activities and speculation over the Zimbabwean leader’s health.
Relationship with Mugabe
He is my best friend. We are very, very close . . . We talk about a lot of different things and we shout at each other as well. That’s normal, we are normal people. You can not say in a relationship that you will not anger each other. So it would be a blatant lie if I said we do not fight. We do sometimes, but then we talk and iron out our differences. We are human beings … It’s only natural. There are things that he might do that I don’t like and I will tell him that. I remind him that ‘I’m the only person who can talk to you like this and he has to listen to me. He is not the kind of person who will say ‘listen to me because I’m the President or even because of the age difference’ no . . . I’m not his daughter, I’m his wife. I’m his companion for life.
We talk a lot. Zvinonzi zviuya hazviwanane, we are very unique people. He is one man who is very clean. I am telling you; he is very clean and I always say thank you God for giving me such a clean man besides the fact that he is very intelligent and he is not a lazy person. I am somebody who has an inquiring mind and every time you ask him something, he is willing to articulate on that subject, expand on it. It does not matter what time of day it is. You can ask him, he will make time for you. He is a very wonderful man. He won’t say ‘I am too tired or I have a lot of work to do.’ He will never say that.
I remember just two weeks ago, he had just arrived from a trip, it was late at night and I was writing something and I said to him, ‘I want you to read this for me, please’. I told him ‘I know it’s late, but you have to read it for me because I want to finish it by morning’. So he had to do it and he takes his time. He is very thorough. If he is going to work on a speech, he could have a draft done, but he is going to work on it.
That’s what they say (the President’s alleged ill-health), they say Mugabe is a very old man and this and that, but he is very sound and lucid. Very, very sound, I’m telling you, and very energetic, too. Oh, yes, he is a different person. He will not miss his morning exercises, seven days a week. At that age, he is very lucky he inherited his mother’s genes. We think when she died she was over 100 years old and she was very sound. She was never sick at all and the President is not sick at all. I injured my back in the gym . . . Do I look like a sick person? I am not sick, not for now. But even if I were sick, I am a human being. We all get sick and afflicted. So really it’s nothing to talk about.
I am a humble person, but I also like to dress well. I am like my mother, she dresses well, so did my father . . . I think it’s an art that’s in-born. I love dressing up, but I also make my own clothes. I design my own clothes. They (critics) will say that because if they can’t get at (President) Mugabe they have to find a soft spot to get at him. So they think Grace is a soft spot, but I don’t think they know the real Grace. I’m not as soft as they think I am.
Their repertoire of denigratory remarks will never deter me, never. I don’t feel anything. At first, yes. Because if something is happening to you for the first time and you are not used to it you certainly react: why are they doing this to me? I would ask. But you know when you spank a child everyday they get used to it and develop a thick skin. Eventually, the spanking will mean nothing to them.
So I don’t care about what they say. After all, I know what I do, what I spend my time doing. I am not affected in any way. And I thank God because my children are not affected as well. Perhaps it is their way of protecting their father because they don’t seem affected. I feel sorry for my children though, at least I am an adult, but they have not wronged anybody, they have not done anything.
In fact, my children are very quiet and reserved. You know, we are a very quiet family. The President is a quiet person. I am a quiet person. I do not talk much; I do not socialise that much. I am like my mother. She keeps to herself and I do that. So we are very reticent people, so are my children — very quiet kids.
My husband and I are more into agriculture. We are farmers and, of course, we have been empowered through the land reform programme. We are running a dairy, but it is a very complicated business running a dairy, I have had to work hard on it . . . . We have put up a big parlour there and we are now probably the second largest in the region.
I am told there is a big one in South Africa in terms of points to milk each cow. The South African one has 84 milking points while ours has 64 clusters . . . We have also decided to add value to our milk so that we really make a little bit more money for ourselves and, of course, the workers. So we are putting up a processing plant and it’s almost complete.
We also have a lot of beef cattle; about 2,000 cattle. So that is what we do really and nothing more. Yes, I intend to do other things, especially to support this project (the Grace Mugabe Orphanage and primary school), but I cannot talk about something that is not in existence yet.
On her children
Children; oh, we are very close. We talk a lot but I am a strict mother. I tell them about their future. They must not feel this warmth that they are in and think it will continue like this forever. I always remind them that we are in the State House because of one person. They must not take it for granted and they have to prepare for their future; they must be responsible for their future.
They must work hard at school, which they do not do sometimes. But I can say my children are very smart. Even Tino (Robert Junior), he is quite a smart boy, very smart. It is just that he did not do well . . . We used to fight about basketball. He loves his basketball. He is passionate about his basketball. So he would actually dedicate a lot of time to basketball, but he learnt a lesson the hard way. What I like about him is that he is not an argumentative child so are all my children. They listen to me. They appreciate when I talk to them.
I want to see them really grow up to be responsible adults. And of course I want them to be well educated and be prepared for the future, because we don’t know what the future holds for them. As I said, they must not rely on the present position, the state of affairs. They should know that they are going to be on their own in future and they must work hard, knowing that they are going to have their own families.
If God is going to bless them with their own families, they must be in a position to give their families what we are giving them now. I have seen children in comfortable families growing up with an attitude that life is so good, easy, and they can get anything they want. But my children know different and I don’t just give them money.
Ahh . . . nyika yanga yaenda (the country was almost overrun by the enemy during the 2008 harmonised elections). So, I decided I could not watch things take the direction that had not been anticipated and I had to play my part as a citizen of this country. Of course, a lot of people said a lot of things, putting words into my mouth. I was just doing it because I realised that I had a duty also to talk to the people, make them understand and tell them that whatever they were being promised (by the opposition and their backers) they were being fooled and all this vilification, especially of the First Family, is because of the land (reform programme).
I am not saying I want to engage in politics, but for people to confront me and say I want to run for President just because I am campaigning for my party is wrong. Who has the right more than me, to talk about my country? I am also a Zimbabwean. That is the more reason I work for this country and that is why I am working here (at the orphanage). I have to defend my country as well, as much as everybody else who is doing the same.
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