Harare – He may have been sporting a jacket made of eye-popping fabric designed by his wife – but there’s no way the tough-talking President Robert Mugabe was giving up his red power tie.
The 92-year-old Zimbabwean president is known for his sober Savile Row suits so the black, yellow and red blazer emblazoned with his face that he wore to open the Zanu-PF conference on Friday was certainly a distraction.
But that red tie is a real constant.
Mugabe wore a red tie on Wednesday too, paired with a red striped shirt at a central committee meeting in Harare. Google “Mugabe red tie” and you’ll find he regularly wears one on his birthday (this year paired with a red kerchief).
Studies have been done to try to determine exactly what message a red tie sends out, especially when worn by a politician.
One school of thought says a red tie exudes confidence and shows the wearer “means business”. More recent research – this time conducted by Durham University in the UK in 2015 – says it can make a wearer look “aggressive and dominant”.
Friday’s suit was fashioned out of fabric designed by fashion-loving Grace Mugabe. She’s well-known for her shopping forays in Dubai, Hong Kong and Western capitals.
The first lady told delegates at Masvingo showgrounds, where the conference is being held, that she “sketched this [design] on a paper”. She boasted that it showed Zimbabwe’s ‘teacup’ shape.
“This Zimbabwe is like a teacup, we all drink from this teacup. We are all agriculturalists by nature. So takaisa chibage (we put maize) – that’s our staple food. We also put the country flower – the flame lily….And there we have our leader we believe in… VaMugabe,” Grace Mugabe said, describing the fabric.
She was wearing an outfit made from the new fabric, paired with a large silver cross pendant.