'Irreplaceable' Mugabe will still be leader when he's dead - Grace

2016-05-26 11:25
Grace Mugabe. (File: AP

Grace Mugabe. (File: AP

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Harare - Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has told tens of thousands of people gathered for a march in support of her 92-year-old husband that he will remain their leader even when he's "in the grave".

"You're irreplaceable," Grace Mugabe, 50 said, turning to her husband on the podium in Robert Mugabe Square.

In quotes translated by the official Herald newspaper online, the first lady said Mugabe would "continue with his leadership even from the National Heroes Acre in event of death." The National Heroes Acre is a burial ground where state funerals take place.

Marchers from across Zimbabwe flooded into the Robert Mugabe square near the ruling party's Rotten Row headquarters in what would be seen as an unprecedented show of support for the longtime leader, who has been in power for 36 years.

‘We Love our Mother’

Superstar Oliver Mtukudzi was among the musicians who entertained the crowds - and had Grace swaying along too. 

The first couple recently returned from Singapore, where their daughter Bona gave birth to Mugabe's first grandson.

Some marchers carried placards with photos of Grace Mugabe on, with the caption: "We Love Our Mother." 

The president's wife, who was famously granted a PhD in 2014 after a reported three months of study, has previously denied speculation that she wants to succeed her husband.

Organisers of what was billed as a Million Man March had mobilised cash, T-shirts, food and buses - some clearly belonging to schools - to bring people from Zimbabwe's 10 provinces to the capital. 

Corruption and poverty 

Although first estimates suggested there were far less than a million people present, it would seem there were many more in attendance than at Zanu-PF's last Million Man March in 2007, a fact acknowledged by Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwao who was interviewed by state TV.

Zanu-PF ministers have been rattled by the support rallied in the last month by a Harare pastor, Evan Mawarire, who has been speaking out online against corruption and poverty in Zimbabwe.

Mawarire and his supporters have been using the hashtag #ThisFlag. 

The ruling party's Psychology Maziwisa, an MP and outspoken supporter of the president, tweeted that Zanu-PF was "out to prove a point today". 

Given the crowds that the party managed to mobilise, many will believe that it succeeded.

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  grace mugabe  |  robert  |  mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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