By Xolisani Ncube
Former first lady Grace Mugabe has revealed how she struck an agreement with her husband to bury the hatchet with President Emmerson Mnangagwa after a bitter fallout last year.
Grace, who was accused of usurping former president Robert Mugabe’s powers, told thousands of mourners at the burial of her mother Idah Marufu in Chikomba yesterday that she had forgiven Mnangagwa.
She said they agreed with Mugabe to reconcile with Mnangagwa “for the good of the country”.
“We sat down with baba (Mugabe) and said as leaders, yes we might have had issues with him and what happened, but we have to show our people forgiveness,” she said.
On the eve of the July 30 elections, Mugabe vowed not to vote for Mnangagwa, describing him as his tormentor.
He went on to endorse MDC Alliance candidate Nelson Chamisa, saying the youthful opposition leader was the best among the 23 that were running for the presidency.
Grace said after the death of her mother last week, Mnangagwa wrote her a letter, fondly calling her his mother.
“The president wrote a letter to me and showed his love, he said I am his mother and he will never let me down’,” she said.
“I was touched by his kindness. I tell you today, he is a human being just like you and me here.”
The once powerful former first lady urged her followers who used to belong to a faction known as G40 to move on, saying she had decided to forgive the people who toppled her husband in a coup in November last year.
She described herself as the biggest victim of the military action, which its architects said was meant to remove criminals surrounding Mugabe at the time.
“If the person who was affected most can forgive, how about you?
“I am talking to those who are busy attacking President Mnangagwa, let us move on and support him.
“Let us pray for him.
“I said we must pray for him, yes I meant it. Bishops here, let us pray for our leaders.”
Grace was at the forefront of calls to expel Mnangagwa from Zanu PF last year for allegedly plotting against Mugabe before the tables were turned against the Mugabes.
Yesterday she urged her supporters to stop attacking Mnangagwa, saying they would be left behind as the former first family’s relationship with the Zanu PF leader had been mended.
“I can tell you that we are safe under the leadership of President Mnangagwa,” she said.
“Yes, what happened is past, let us move on. Don’t be left behind when others are moving on.
“I hope those who are attacking the current leadership are hearing me.
“I can tell you here that every week Cde Mnangagwa sends people to our home to ask us what we want and how we are. He does so out of love, be assured we are taken care of.”
The military takeover saw a number of senior Zanu PF officials that were close to Mugabe fleeing the country fearing for their lives.
Former Higher Education, Science and Technology minister Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere (ex-Local Government) and Patrick Zhuwao (ex-Public Service) are still in exile.
The former Zanu PF women’s league boss said Mnangagwa would not repeat the mistakes he might have made in the past.
“Being a president is not an easy thing, he is a president of everyone,” Grace said.
“There are things which he now cannot do because of his post. Ask me, being a president is not an easy job, I used to cook for the president.
“I know what it takes to be the country’s leader. He needs our support.”
Grace said Mnangagwa had told them to “keep their little money” after they tried to bankroll her mother’s funeral.
“We tried to chip in with our money, we were told by Mnangagwa that ‘keep your little money, we shall help you,’ ” she said.
“We thank you, Cde Mugabe, for your son.
“Mnangagwa has really helped us.
“Indeed, we shall meet with him and offer our appreciation for what he has done.”
Grace’s mother died last week at a private clinic in Harare. She had been staying with the Mugabes at their Blue Roof mansion.
Mugabe, who arrived in the afternoon with a heavy police escort, while Grace was addressing mourners, said people should unite in times of sorrow.
The 94-year-old former president had stayed behind in Harare so that he could collect his two children, Robert Jnr and Chatunga, who are based in South Africa.
“This is what we expect from any government. We want peace, we want unity among our people,” he said.
“Even the opposition should be treated with respect. Let us differ in our political ideologies, but remain Zimbabweans.
“Yes, as you heard from Amai how we were assisted, we thank the government. We really thank them.
“I now hear that Chiwenga [Constantino] is related to the Marufus, well, he was not alone in rendering this support to us, he worked with President ED, we thank them very much.”
As Mugabe was addressing, a snake emerged from beneath the carpet near the coffin forcing mourners to flee for their lives in different directions.
But the former leader remained calm with his son-in-law Simba Chikore and close aides standing near him while other men tried to kill the reptile.
Some mourners screamed as they ran away from the tent at the graveside.
After the snake was killed, Mugabe told mourners it was victory against the devil.
“In the Bible we are taught that a snake comes from God and it represents Satan,” he said.
“Satan has been killed here. It wanted to disturb our programme, so we say, down with you Satan, down with you snake.
“This is how the evil is destroyed in the same manner the snake was killed here.”