FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly slipped out of the country to seek medical treatment in Dubai as her health allegedly continues to deteriorate, NewsDay has learnt.
By Everson Mushava
This has prompted President Robert Mugabe’s Gushungo clan to call for a meeting seeking “spiritual intervention” to save her and resolve other undisclosed problems facing the First Family.
Speculation became rife this week over the First Lady’s whereabouts after Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko was on Tuesday forced to stand in for her when he received about $1,5 million worth of clothes and foodstuffs from a South Africa-based non-governmental organisation, Givers Foundation, at State House.
The donation was for about 3 500 flood victims in the Hurungwe West constituency.
Givers Foundation also donated nappies for children at Grace’s Mazowe orphanage.
Although NewsDay could not establish details of Grace’s ailment, impeccable sources said the First Lady was battling cancer, which has metastasised.
Metastatic cancer is one that has spread from the part of the body where it started (the primary site) to other parts of the body.
Grace, who dominated Zimbabwe’s political space towards the end of last year soon after her nomination to lead the Zanu PF Women’s League, has not made a public appearance since March 8 when she officiated during commemorations to mark International Women’s Day.
This has fuelled speculation that she could be facing serious health challenges, which were, however, confirmed by various close sources yesterday.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba was not picking calls to shed light on the First Lady’s whereabouts.
But NewsDay has been reliably informed that Grace, who is battling ill-health, slipped out of Zimbabwe recently to seek further treatment in Dubai, where her son Robert Junior attends university.
Grace played a central role in the demolition of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s faction before Zanu PF’s December congress.
She claimed that Mujuru was corrupt and plotting to assassinate Mugabe.
In January, Grace was forced to remain in Singapore after the First Family’s annual holiday as her husband Mugabe returned home alone.
Mugabe told Zanu PF supporters on arrival back home at Harare International Airport that Grace had remained behind recuperating after surgery.
He disclosed that Grace was suffering from appendicitis.
Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix, and common symptoms are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and decreased appetite.
Severe complications of a ruptured appendix include widespread painful inflammation of the inner lining of the abdominal wall and sepsis.
Although Mugabe seemed to downplay his wife’s illness, medical experts who spoke on condition of anonymity alluded that she very likely had cancer of the colon.
They said during her public rallies last year, she showed the signs and symptoms — including hair loss and dry skin — consistent with someone on chemotherapy.
Mugabe has recently been globe-trotting without his wife.
In Japan, Mugabe’s daughter Bona Mugabe-Chikore was forced to fly from Dubai to sit by her father’s side during official meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mugabe then reportedly flew back to Dubai to see his wife before proceeding to Zimbabwe, leaving Bona in Dubai with her mother.
Grace has missed several local and regional meetings and functions where her husband was the guest.
She missed the Algeria trip where Mugabe is currently visiting, apart from missing the Namibia trip for the inauguration of that country’s new leader, President Hage Geingob.
Officials yesterday speculated that Mugabe could fly to Dubai to check on Grace’s health on his way back from Algeria.
Grace also failed to make it to Kutama College in Zvimba at the weekend for the Catholic institution’s centenary celebrations where her husband admitted that he was “a worried man” and was “having sleepless nights”.
NewsDay was also reliably informed that the Gushungo family would from today hold a spiritual indaba on Marongowe Mountain in Zvimba to seek divine intervention on many issues including Grace’s failing health.
The indaba will end on Sunday and family members will not be allowed to bring food except roasted and pounded maize.
Sources said one of the spirit mediums, only identified as Dutsa, was already on the mountain waiting for the family members to arrive this afternoon.
“We will be seeking spiritual guidance on social problems that are affecting the family such as failure to secure jobs and preservation of our sacred places. Yes, we are also worried about the failing health of our mother (Grace),” a Gushungo clan member who declined to be named for security reasons said.
“We will also thank the ancestors. They have done us a good job and our leader, President Robert Mugabe, is now leading the whole of Africa.”