By Bernard Bwoni
The realm of politics and policy-making, just like any society, is intricate and unpredictable. It has its fair share of those who exist just for the sake of protraction (just to breath air, but make no difference to society) and on the other end of the scale those people who make things happen and make noticeable differences to the lives of others. The latter group possess that cutting edge trademark and those pacesetter attributes that the former group is clearly deprived of. These are the movers and shakers who have the undeniable gift of pragmatic influence and a people-centred genetic make-up. These are the individuals who walk the ground and at the same time listen to the sounds the ground they walk on makes. They hear and feel the grassroots, they get the basics and they speak the dialect of their environment and duet with the soul and systems that surrounds them. They seek no glory or reputation but rather that commitment for the greater good of society. In Zimbabwe, men of mettle and women of weight are among us, those who inspire and constantly remind us of the higher purpose of society. They seek no praise or worship but only to refocus society’s thrust on pertinent issues that affect the grassroots. Dr Grace Mugabe easily falls within the ranks of the non-theoretical craftswoman of action, a charming, confident, charitable and very normal First Lady of meaning.
The First Lady, Dr Grace Mugabe by virtue of being the wife of President Mugabe (an African Icon) has had to blaze trails, suffer trials and tribulations. She has been labelled all manner of despicable names but she has remained true to her core values and beliefs. She has dedicated her life to things that gives meaning and purpose to others, possess attributes strikingly similar to her husband and hence the negative onslaught to stifle her progressive national pursuits. The Zimbabwe First Lady is driven, focused, committed, not easily deterred or distracted just like President Mugabe himself and those are the hallmarks of nation builders. She lays it on the table as it is and that is refreshingly different and endears her even to those opposed to her. The issues she brings to the forefront, most people certainly agree with her, but many are constrained and restricted by their misinformed perception of the woman behind the words. There are heated debates going on Social Media sites on certain issues Dr Mugabe has raised recently and you often hear statements like “I don’t like the woman but I completely agree with what she has said about the girl child and marriage” or “I know I don’t often agree with Grace Mugabe but it is refreshing the way she has exposed corruption”. The fact of the matter is that any statement she makes triggers debate that cut across political divides. You have those in the opposition ranks privately agreeing with her and publicly slaying her for political mileage. The bottom line though is that people do listen when the First Lady speaks and it gets them thinking and hence the many news headlines that follow after every address she makes. It is this sense of meaning and purpose in the First Lady’s presence that intrigues the nation and the world.
Dr Grace Mugabe has never made any claims to perfection and true to fact no one in this world can claim stewardship to such. In one of her addresses Dr Mugabe said this with her usual honesty and refreshing honesty “I am not a person who is afraid to ask, I always ask the President when I am not sure about anything”. People who shape the world have a compassionate heart, and they see and learn to better equip themselves to serve. She has been right down on the ground and taking time to support and care for disadvantaged children. In one of her addresses Dr Mugabe highlighted that she has over 88 children at the children’s home she runs and when you read newspaper news article that paint the picture of self-absorption it just does not make any sense. The Grace Mugabe Foundation does a lot of charity work in Zimbabwe and it is unfortunate that international media sources are awash with falsehoods and misleading narratives about the First Lady. One of the many reasons why the First Lady’s addresses and statements engross the nation is because of the potent content and the fact that they focus on issues that are dear to most people’s hearts. Those are the issues that affect people in their day-to-day lives. She has a practical awareness of the links with the grassroots and how to connect with people right down to the basics of life and living in society. She is not restricted by the pretentions of politics hence why she is not afraid to be who she really is. She is authentic, she holds views that resonate with many and she does not settle for conformity just for the sake of it. The First Lady is passionate about her charity work and about the country, her actions and words are from the heart and there is a level of respect she accords the people of Zimbabwe.
The First Lady, in her addresses, is uniquely blunt to the point of being miles away from all correctness yet she leaves no stone unturned. She does not seek to preserve reputations nor does she seek to garner a reputation but rather displays an unparalleled commitment to ‘serve the people’. If one listens to most of her addresses, her key words are often about the people ahead of all else. In her recent address in Kadoma, she was talking about “the leadership we want, leaders who know they are servants of the people”.
Many speak about ZimAsset the document, but few focus on the actual technicalities of implementation. Dr Mugabe recently pointed out “For ZimAsset to work, we must work, we are the foot soldiers”. The key to the implementation of ZimAsset is to break the programme down to its bare basics and then roll it top down to the people. The economic blueprint is an excellent but complex document that needs to be simplified at the implementation phase. Zimbabwe has an educated population and possibly the best-educated people on the African continent and that is a crucial resource for national development. The First Lady complemented that by stating, “We are educated enough, but we have to deliver, we have to work, we have to grab the opportunities and run-off with these opportunities”.
ZimAsset is not going to miraculously register successes without the collective strength of the people of Zimbabwe that will see the economic blueprint through. The collective strength of a unit is far much stronger than the individualistic spirit that has of recent pervaded our society. As Dr Grace Mugabe rightly put it, “there are elements in the country who are retrogressive, as Zimbabweans we have to be positive, progressive and we have to put emphasis on working”. The number of times the First Lady mentions the word ‘work’ in her addresses clearly shows a woman who is committed to seeing Zimbabwe moving and moving forward. What Zimbabwe is presenting to her citizens are opportunities currently camouflaged by challenges and as Dr Grace Mugabe rightly said, now is the time to seize those opportunities and run away with them.