Dr Mugabe: Playing mother to a nation First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe
First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe

First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe

Bruce Ndlovu
Being the first lady of a nation means that the motherly role women usually play extends beyond their own family as their actions have to touch the lives of those outside their immediate circle.

The tender hand of a mother is one that needs to be felt constantly by any functioning family. While a father is an essential and indispensable component of any normal family unit, the mother’s touch is one that cannot be done away with.

In big or small families, mothers have the crucial juggling act of raising those dear to them with discipline while also making sure they do so with a tender touch.

For the first lady of a country, however, this job becomes even harder. Playing mother to a nation of millions is no mean feat, but it is one that Dr Grace Mugabe has managed to pull off with aplomb.

For years, she has had to keep a keen and concerned watch on her children, as any mother would if she had a large, sprawling family. Instead of worrying about what a few stray toddlers are up to, she has to scratch her head and worry about the wellbeing of millions.

When the time of harvest comes, every mother looks at the haul that family would have gathered from the field, wondering whether it would last them until the next harvest.

For the past few years, Zimbabwe has not been able to reap enough to feed each and every mouth in its household.

Despite the successful land resettlement programme, a crucial ingredient that would spur the country to full agricultural glory was still missing.

Like a mother eager to see that every member of her household is sufficiently fed, Dr Mugabe provided the necessary spark that made sure the country reached maximum agricultural productivity.

The Command Agriculture programme, the brain child of Dr Mugabe, was adopted by Cabinet. President Mugabe assigned Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to supervise the programme which has been a huge success.

Alongside the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme, the command programme has gone a long way in making sure that no Zimbabwean child goes to bed on an empty stomach.

After the havoc and disasters wrought by the El Nino-induced drought, the programme has led to a remarkable turnaround in the country’s agricultural fortunes.

Due to the singular vision that the programme brought, maize in excess of 2,1 million tonnes is expected to be harvested, even in dry areas.

With a mother’s ingenuity which managed to identify a problem and prescribe a working solution, Zimbabwe will for the first time in a long time be able to attain food security. The aching bellies from only a year ago are forgotten and all this is due to the astute contributions of one person the whole country calls mother.

Over the years, the First Lady has proved herself to be an astute entrepreneur. Her eye for a good investment is one that has been noticed by even those beyond Zimbabwe’s borders. In 2015, the First Lady of Zambia, Mrs Esther Lungu, praised her Zimbabwean counterpart for embracing the entrepreneur in her.

While many a selfish businessperson would be happy to hog all the profits for themselves, Dr Mugabe has instead made sure that whatever she reaps also benefits other Zimbabweans.

The First Lady runs Alpha Omega Dairy which employs 300 people and has over  2 000 dairy cattle. The company produces milk, yoghurt and cheese among other dairy products.

“What you’re providing is a sweet cycle. You’re feeding the nation as well as providing education to the nation. And just like the Sadc summit objective is industrialisation, you’re achieving the goal,” said Mrs Lungu during a visit to the farm.

“We’re very grateful to be here and to me, it’s an eye-opener and just like you learnt from Equatorial Guinea, I’ve learnt and I’m hoping to take the idea to Zambia. I’ll tell Zambians how good and nice these facilities are. I urge you not to relent in your efforts, keep up with the same spirit,” she said.

Although she employs many Zimbabweans on the farm that has not been the full extent of the First Lady’s philanthropic spirit.

Dr Mugabe has a long storied history of donating to some of the country’s needy, always availing whatever she can especially when disaster strikes and many are in dire straits.

An example of the First Lady’s generosity came in 2015 when she donated several foodstuffs and $250 000 to 50 charity organisations countrywide.

Among the beneficiaries were Chinyaradzo Children’s Home, Bako reNhamo Children’s Home, Danhiko Project, Rose of Sharon Welfare Organisation, Khayelihle Children’s Village and Thembiso Children’s Home. It was a grand and heartfelt contribution on an entirely unprecedented scale.

Despite such gestures, perhaps the crowning glory on the First Lady’s charity work is her children’s home.

The Grace Mugabe Children’s Home in Mazowe houses scores of children who are afforded a chance to attain a decent education. Under the First Lady’s astute leadership, plans are also afoot to set up a secondary school.

By taking care of the needs of the most vulnerable in society, the children, the First Lady has proven that she is truly a mother to all.

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