PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has reportedly withdrawn former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s State security detail, as the former First Family continues to adjust to life after former President Robert Mugabe was forced to resign last November. BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Grace, who was kicked out of the ruling Zanu PF in November, where she was women’s league boss, used to have security agents specifically assigned to her, but these were withdrawn progressively until Monday.
Her close security team used to be headed by a police commissioner, Olga Bungu, who is now reported to be operating from the “commissioner’s pool” at the Police General Headquarters in Harare.
Sources confirmed yesterday that Grace’s security team had been reduced gradually since her husband’s ouster, with most aides assigned to her being recalled and reassigned.
“She no longer has a team that is dedicated to her,” a source said on condition of anonymity.
“Grace will largely depend on the team that is assigned to the former President.
“She can no longer determine how the aides operate, but will be an indirect beneficiary of her husband.”
Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, declined to comment on the matter, referring NewsDay to the new Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-general, Isaac Moyo, and the Police Protection Unit in charge of Mugabe’s security.
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“The CIO and police would give you a correct position on the matter,” he said.
“But, logically, I believe it would be expensive for the government to provide security to Chatunga [Mugabe’s youngest child] now whenever he travels to America or decides to relocate there.
“I think the idea is that security details and other benefits are accrued to the principal [Mugabe].
“Other members now enjoy through the principal and not by virtue of their position or association.”
Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, said she was unware whether Bungu was still attached to the former First Lady.
“I don’t know, I will need to find out,” she said.
According to a recent Government Gazette, Mugabe’s security team has been slashed to a minimum of six officers and its size could be varied depending on circumstances.
The former President is entitled to a salary equivalent to that of the sitting President, will have two drivers, two private secretaries and two aide-de-camp officers or personal assistants and two office attendants, among other benefits.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and constitutional lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, said, at law, First Ladies do not have separate security, but benefit from the team that is assigned to their spouses, hence, the move should be viewed as downgrading and not withdrawal.
“She (Grace) is part of the [former] President’s team, so the same people attached to protect the [former] President are the same who should be available to her as well,” he explained.
“Even the current First Lady [Auxillia Mnangagwa], she benefits from the team that is responsible for the President because you cannot separate the two.”