Dr Grace Mugabe: unpacking the substance

 

Here is a woman of substance, a woman with a charitable disposition and a woman of tangible and visibly irrefutable influence.

 While the distinction between those who serve the self and those who serve others is often obvious, in this ‘global village’ that dividing line is often deliberately obscured and determined by those who carry the world media key.

Any Internet search engine on Dr Grace Mugabe will 99.99 percent of the time carry headlines portraying an uncaring and over-indulgent First Lady. Behind the media extracts and sensational headlines there is a intelligent woman of meaning, real meaning very much in touch with the grassroots, a passionate and caring wife, mother to her own children and orphaned children and a highly innovative business-minded philanthropic mother of the nation. Her selfless sacrifice to needy and orphaned children remains cushioned from reporting by those who paint the erroneous and dishonest picture of a substance-free shopaholic.

The fact of the matter is that Dr Grace Mugabe is a progressive prime mover, the mother and the brains behind a well-run Children’s Home in Mazowe, just outside Harare and currently in the process of building a school and working on plans for a University that will benefit present and future generations of Zimbabwe. She is an inspiration to all women in Zimbabwe and mother to many neglected, abandoned and deprived children. She has an inspiring pacemaker with a meaningful and proven track record of community and grassroots work through her charity work. 

Dr Grace Mugabe has often described herself as a ‘workaholic’ and that is fully backed by results of her hard work on the ground. On top of running her children’s home and working on other charitable projects she is also a successful dairy farmer with over 2 500 dairy cows. Dr Grace Mugabe has the charitable bone permanently etched right down to her spirit and listening carefully to her recent meet the people addresses minus the specifically nit-picked sound-bites and riveting headlines in most opposition and international media sources there indeed is profound depth and a genuine desire to uplift and upgrade the lives of the disadvantaged and unprivileged. She has prioritised commitment to challenging the degeneracy currently bedevilling the nation and addressing issues affecting ordinary citizens on a daily basis.

She has challenged corruption, she has challenged inconsistencies in terms of service delivery and she has ruffled the cushy culture of impunity that has been rooting itself freely in some sections of the upper echelons of power in Zimbabwe. Dr Grace Mugabe has put emphasis on keeping the people of Zimbabwe informed and instilled genuine commitment to challenging the decadence.

The unreported Grace Mugabe has community work credentials and her recent meet-the-grassroots addresses focused on practical issues that affect people in the local communities on a daily basis. She met with Cross Border Traders and tackled pertinent issues that affect this important entity in the Zimbabwe economy. In Zimbabwe over 5.8 million people are employed in the informal sector and this contributes significantly to the social and economic functioning of the state. 

These are relevant and befitting issues to be thrust on the forefront of the national discourse and come up with solutions to address them. Her encouragement and advice to the Cross Border Traders to accept slow growth as opposed to quick economic gains is sound economic advice. Any business is a process where you lay the foundations and from there that is where the take-off happens. She made sound and welcome promises of championing for the traders to get land and start producing which will enhance livelihoods. She has been talking about facilitating women to be given land, focusing on the productive agriculture sector and indigenous Zimbabweans becoming self-sustaining and self-reliant. She is talking about real wealth creation as opposed to the retrogressive notion of mere workers who do not own the means of production. In another address in Gwanda, in Matabeleland South province Dr Grace Mugabe touched on a number of very important issues and highlighted the importance of education and humanity. She said that “Education without humanity is useless, even if you educated, you need to be humane and don’t lead children astray”. These are pertinent issues that do not get any media attention. She talked about the importance of family, the ravages of child abuse and domestic violence. She also challenged government’s policy of demolition of illegal houses in urban areas without finding alternatives for them. 

She did not condone the illegal structures but her argument was that alternatives were needed for those displaced.

The problem is that by destroying the structures you create another problem of homeless people. Now these are issues that no ‘global media’ will highlight about the First Lady. She has spoken incessantly about women’s issues and the need for women to be educated and to have land to help improve their economic prospects. It is unfortunate that many have tended to focus only on the stirring headlines and the cock and bull stories instead of the depth and wealth behind most of Dr Grace Mugabe’s addresses.

She does possess a clear awareness of Zimbabwe’s economic policy as evidenced in another of her addresses where she highlighted the importance of the country’s look east policy and the implementation of the country’s economic blueprint ZimAsset. One of the key issues she has consistently and passionately focused on has been the issue of corruption and the negative image it portrays about the country. She has persistently stressed the negative outcomes of letting corruption go unchallenged as it undermines the trust people have in government and some individuals in positions of authority and resources that could have been used for collective national benefit towards individual gratifications. Beneath all the negative and biased representation of the First Lady there is breath and depth, a solid commitment to addressing the issues of the downtrodden and bringing to the foreground all these issues. 

The reassuring thing about the First Lady is that it is not all empty words, she is a woman of action and she has the substance-endowed charitable curriculum vitae to back it. She is upholds the very same principles as her husband President Robert Mugabe who has dedicated his entire life liberating and empowering the indigenous African peoples and redressing the inequalities created by the colonial system. In another of her meet the people addresses Dr Mugabe lamented the case of those resettled farmers who were reluctant to seize the opportunities presented to them.

 She like President Mugabe has emphasised the urgent need to start unlocking, dismantling and restructuring the previously biased system which still continues to tie down African minds and limiting their potential to enhance themselves. 

No gimmicks but this as real as life itself gets, the freshness and reality of the grassroots, physically touching the ground and tackling issues head-on. There is a lot more substance behind those dramatic news headlines and sensational media clips.

* bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

December 2014
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