It was by grace that Gabriella Engels was able to escape the fury of Grace.
Pinning her hostage to the ground and whipping with a cord, Grace Mugabe, the 52 year-old First Lady and wife of Robert, the 93 year old President of Zimbabwe, left an indelible mark and an unforgettable experience on the 20-year old model.
Her offence? She was wrong for her son, Bellarmine Chatunga, the one who really has Robert Mugabe’s face and stature.
Why else would a grown woman, public officer and supposed role model, leave her country (she was born in SA though) to beat up another woman in a hotel room, simply because the woman had been with her 24-year old son? Mrs Mugabe was supposed to be at a conference in South Africa but after inflicting the horrid damage, she dared not show her face in public, sneaking out back to Harare with a contrived diplomatic immunity from friends of her husband’s in high Pretoria.
Mrs Grace Mugabe has not made any public statement on the matter, but denying that she did not do it is not among the things she is expected to say. Her reputation formed from previous actions of similar ilk has justified the certainty that she did this. What she will probably say is that she was involved in a heated debate with ‘that girl’ about the safety of one of her sons and that during the cause of the back and forth, she hurt herself. With support from able PR firms and state media, she will be let off and that episode will pass.
Nor will there be any statement from the Mugabes on the recklessness of their children, Robert Jr especially, who, while escaping from her mother being all over the place in the hotel, pushed a waitress so bad to the ground that she lost her baby. The Mugabe boys, Robert and Bellarmine, can spend the equivalent of Zimbabwe’s GDP per capita in just one night at a club in VIP lounges; you would not expect them to be bothered about stepping on a poor woman’s baby.
It does not fully describe Mrs Mugabe to simply explain that she was being violently meddlesome and ultra-protective of her children, as she is known to be a beater when it suits her purposes. Yet, the episode of feeling the duty to get physically involved in putting it to the woman she did not want around her son just echoes something that happens quite often in ordinary African homes, even of the well to do. It happens with boys and girls before and during marriage, and depending on the hotter temperament and availability, it could be done by either the father or the mother. It is repelling that some girls wish to marry boys who have lost their mothers but Mrs Mugabe’s stunt is just one sample signal of what motivates the reprehensible thought in that minority of courting ladies.
Mrs Mugabe will not face justice for political reasons but there should be a way of making her face personal consequences for her actions. On a broader note, mothers should raise their spoilt sons to be men enough to handle their business. Should they fail to, they should come to terms with their failure and not take out their frustration on the children raised by other mothers.