BULAWAYO – GRACA Machel was motivated by “revenge” in her criticism of former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, more than outrage over his political and economic policies, newly declassified United States intelligence documents claim.
Mugabe, claims a March 2009 memo by the Defence Intelligence Agency, had “adamantly refused” to marry the widow of the former Mozambican President Samora Machel several years earlier and she “had it in” for the Zimbabwean leader.
Graca eventually married South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela, although Mandela had not been “keen on the idea”.
The claims are contained in ‘The Mandela Files’, a cache of declassified intelligence memos obtained by the United States organisation, Property of the People, after a court battle.
Property of the People said the documents “uncover the extent of U.S. intelligence agency efforts to surveil and subvert Nelson Mandela and the anti-Apartheid movement.”
The documents cover intelligence files about Mandela written by the FBI, CIA, DIA, and NSA – who had initially refused Property of the People’s initial Freedom of Information Act request for the files.
The Graca Machel memo, under the subject, ‘Graca Machel and Robert Mugabe – A woman scorned gets her revenge?’, is one of hundreds of files now put online by Property of the People.
It came after The Elders – a grouping of elder statesmen – had been denied entry in Zimbabwe where they hoped to broker a compromise deal between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai after disputed elections.
Graca, widowed by the 1986 death of her husband in a plane crash, was particularly critical of Mugabe and called for him to leave power.
“Any government who goes out and assaults its own citizens, its own people, has lost completely any kind of legitimacy,” said Machel in January of 2009.
But American intelligence, it would appear, thought there was more to her fury than concern for human rights and democracy.
The memo claims: “Graca Machel’s enmity toward Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is not entirely motivated by her morale (sic) outrage over his handling of Zimbabwean affairs or the government’s refusal to allow her and ‘The Elders’ to visit. Much of her enmity comes from his refusal to marry her when previously asked.”
The memo claims that “conversations took place several years ago among regional leaders on what to do with Graca? Graca, as the deceased Mozambican President Samora Machel’s widow, was considered the most important widow in the region and it was considered an obligation that someone at her level take her on.”
Mugabe had lost his wife, Sally Hayfron, in 1992 to a kidney ailment. He married his secretary Grace Marufu in 1996.
When offered Graca, Mugabe had “adamantly refused and made disparaging remarks about her that made it to Graca.”
“Since then, Graca has had it in for Mugabe and her service as one of ‘The Elders’ gave her the perfect opportunity to get her revenge.
“After Mugabe turned Graca down, the regional leaders approached the then South African President Nelson Mandela who begrudgingly accepted the proposal. Mandela was not keen on the idea, but acquiesced due to a sense of obligation.”
Mandela married Graca Machel in 1998.