WASHINGTON D.C. —
President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, says she’s a people’s First Lady and will do all in her power to help struggling Zimbabwean families.
Critics, however, charge her husband’s party is largely to blame for the suffering of the majority of Zimbabweans she’s giving handouts to.
The First Lady is on a tour, according to state media, of irrigation and empowerment projects in the country.
So far she has visited Manicaland, Matebeleland North, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Harare provinces, dishing out goodies, including tractors sourced by the government from Brazil, rice and maize meal.
At a rally in Mbare high density suburb Thursday, Mrs. Mugabe told supporters that she was not interested in succeeding her husband despite moves that analysts say point to a person being coached to take over the reins.
Here are some of the sound bites from the Mbare rally as contained in the short video attached to this story. Mrs. Mugabe spoke in Shona.
Speaking about her lack of interest in leading the country, she said:
"Let me tell you, I am standing here as the wife of the president as well as a person that you who chose to lead the women's league then it ends there full stop. I do not need any other position."
She said she will support her husband as the Zanu PF presidential candidate, saying: "Some have laughed at me saying Mugabe's wife must be mad. I said we will put Mr. Mugabe in a wheel-chair and go for elections. That is the truth because we need his leadership which is good for all of us."
Mr. Mugabe should be supported because "he is the unifying force that man here in Zimbabwe and we must appreciate."
One of the Zanu PF supporters at the rally said: "As a woman, I respect what the First Lady mentioned about us selling, that's how we can survive because there is unemployment and no money, but we must have cleaner places to sell from."
A Mbare man said: "We have no water for bathing and to drink in our homes and there are power cuts all the time."