HARARE – One of the many placards at the Grace Mugabe solidarity rally in Harare today screamed that “Engels is not an Angel” in reference to Gabriella Angels‚ 20‚ a South African model who was allegedly beaten up by Zimbabwe’s First Lady.
Zanu PF’s Women’s League in which Mrs Mugabe is the secretary‚ Youth League and a section of the War Veterans aligned to her husband marched from some of Harare’s townships into the city centre to show support for her.
The event drew an estimated 3‚000 people.
Across town‚ police stopped a National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) demonstration against Pretoria’s decision to give diplomatic immunity to the wife of President Robert Mugabe.
A civic activist group‚ AfriForum‚ is fighting to have Grace Mugabe to appear in a South African court of law to face charges which she dodged through the hotly contested diplomatic immunity cover.
One of the organisers of the solidarity rally‚ Lettina Undenge‚ said they were not amused that Mrs Mugabe was being pursued for possible prosecution.
“President Mugabe decided to marry this young beautiful woman called Grace and they are happy together. We feel the pain when Amai Mugabe is being denigrated‚” she said.
Another speaker‚ Mandi Chimene‚ warned party members who were angling to take over from Mugabe to put a stop to it. Chimene said Zimbabwe would “regret when Mugabe (the president) is no more“.
However‚ the President and First Lady didn’t attend the rally‚ which mostly addressed internal Zanu PF factional fights.
Engels and AfriForum have filed court papers challenging the diplomatic immunity granted to Grace Mugabe by SA’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. In the notice filed to the High Court in Pretoria earlier this month‚ they want the court to review and set aside the decision by the minister to grant Mugabe immunity. They also want the court to declare that the decision to grant Mugabe immunity doesn’t mean she won’t be prosecuted.
Grace Mugabe is accused of attacking the model at a luxury Johannesburg hotel on August 13 after finding her sons in the company of young women.
Engels said and a friend visited “acquaintances” at the Capital West 20 Hotel in Sandton‚ when Grace “burst into the hotel room and assaulted me in the presence of her bodyguards“.