Grace Mugabe not here, says government

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(FILES) This file photo taken on November 05, 2017 shows Zimbabwe first lady Grace Mugabe looking on before addressing congregants gathered from various indegenous church denominations at a rally in the capital Harare, where she said there was nothing wrong with her taking over from husband Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe's military appeared to be in control of the country on November 15, 2017 as generals denied staging a coup but used state television to vow to target "criminals" close to President Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa's dismissal left Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, in prime position to succeed her husband as the next president -- a succession strongly opposed by senior ranks in the military. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-Namibia’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday vehemently denied international media reports that Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe has fled to Namibia due to the reported military takeover of that country’s government. With her husband Robert Mugabe reportedly confined to his private Harare residence by the military, international media reported that Grace – who is at the centre of the political storm in Zimbabwe – fled to Namibia, although it was suggested her final destination was likely to be Malaysia or Singapore.

Reports in Zimbabwe suggested that Grace, on whose insistence former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was reportedly fired last week in a bitter succession battle, was still at an undisclosed location in Zimbabwe.
South African-based Zimbabwean businessman Trevor Ncube, who publishes South Africa’s Mail & Guardian weekly newspaper among other media interests, was among those believing the disgraced Zimbabwean first lady was still in Harare.

“My sources in Zimbabwe confirm Grace Mugabe is still at the ‘Blue Roof’ home in Borrowdale, Harare with President Mugabe,” he tweeted yesterday.

Mugabe’s children were said to have left Zimbabwe in the dead of night on Tuesday, hours before the military, under the command of General Constantine Chiwenga, took over the national broadcaster ZBC on which several announcements were made by the army.

Among such announcements was that President Mugabe and his family were being kept at a safe place and guaranteed protection.

But Nandi-Ndaitwah, who accompanied President Hage Geingob and his slate candidates to Keetmanshoop yesterday for a campaign meeting ahead of the Swapo elective congress later this month, said the reports of Grace fleeing to Namibia did not hold water.

“There is no truth in that,” the Swapo vice-presidential candidate said. “I have not received any such information – what we have been informed is that the first lady and the family are safe at their home.”
Also speaking on the situation in Zimbabwe, Nandi-Ndaitwah indicated that Namibia is closely monitoring the situation in that country, but with concern.

She said Namibia, as part of SADC, associates itself with the statement issued on behalf of SADC yesterday by the bloc’s chairman, South African President Jacob Zuma.

She further said as neighbours, member states of SADC and the AU, Namibia and Zimbabwe share a common destiny and common aspirations for peace, economic prosperity and democracy for both countries and their peoples, and thus the situation in Zimbabwe is worrying.

“Namibia is concerned that the present situation in Zimbabwe creates uncertainty that is not conducive to peace, stability and consolidation of democracy in Zimbabwe and the region as a whole,” she noted.

She added that Namibia notes that the Zimbabwe Defence Force has assured the residents of that country and the international community at large that they have not overthrown the government and have no intention to take over the governance of the country.

She further stated that Namibia understands that the situation in the country remains relatively calm, and she urged all democratic institutions in that country to carry out their constitutional duties.
“It is the expectation of the government of Namibia that democratic institutions in Zimbabwe will continue to carry out their constitutional functions,” she said.

She also urged all the parties concerned to scrupulously adhere to the relevant provisions of the SADC Treaty on Governance and the African Union Constitutive Act, adding that Namibia will continue to follow the situation closely.

She further informed New Era that Namibian students in Zimbabwe and staff members of Namibian institutions were safe.

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