Zimbabwe First Lady’s lavish party rakes in $3 million

Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe raised $3 million from a dinner dance held to celebrate her 50th birthday last Saturday, State media reported on Tuesday.
President Robert Mugabe’s wife turned 50 last Thursday and the weekend lavish party at the First Family’s Harare mansion was also held to celebrate the couple’s last born son’s 18th birthday.
According to State media, the funds would be used to finance operations at the First Lady’s orphanage near Harare. The orphanage has 90 children.
Some companies reportedly paid as much as $100,000 for tables close to the First Family. There were reports that struggling State owned companies were forced to bankroll the party.
Cabinet ministers paid at least $2,000 each for a seat at the dinner table.
The party was attended by over 2,000 people and was beamed live on State television.
The First Lady, who entered active politics last year after campaigning for the ouster of Zimbabwe’s first female Vice-President Joice Mujuru, has of late been touted as one of President Mugabe’s potential successors.
She said politicians harbouring ambitions to succeed her 91-year-old husband were behind the speculation that she was eyeing the Presidency.
“We hear a lot of things being said about us (First Family), allegations being made that she has presidential ambitions,” she told guests.
“When these people who actually think they are the ones to take over after (President) Mugabe imagine that (President) Mugabe’s wife has those ambitions, they actually start mudslinging.
“I know some detractors are writing about it, that (President) Mugabe is grooming his wife to become the president after he retires, and it will never stop because there are people who think they are the ones to take over out there.”
She added: “They think that if (President) Mugabe is really grooming his wife, we must ensure we pull her down and this is what has been happening.
“Its all about those people who fear they may wake up one morning with (President) Mugabe’s wife as the President.”
Troublesome son
President Mugabe recently admitted that his party was still divided over his succession despite a far reaching purge that claimed the scalps of over 10 Cabinet ministers accused of supporting Ms Mujuru.
At the birthday celebrations, President Mugabe spoke at length about his wife’s charity work and his children.
He said his son, Bellarmine Chatungu, was troublesome and hoped he would mature with age.
“I say congratulations to Bellarmine, Bellarmine, Bellarmine, and I want to say this environment perhaps will give him more encouragement and greater sense of seriousness, that you are now a grown person,” President Mugabe said.
“Not eligible to marry, but to certainly devote to your studies with greater seriousness, we want you to go through A-Level, let us not see you fail.
“The constant retreats to restaurants, refusing to eat at home should stop now.”
President Mugabe and his wife have three children and the first born, Bona, married last year. The First Lady has a son from a previous marriage.