Opinion

Duck! Grace is in town

The world was treated to a glimpse into the lives of the rich and unhinged when Zimbabwe’s First Lady stormed into a Joburg hotel room and laid into a friend of her sons’ with an extension cord

20 August 2017 - 00:00 By NADINE DREYER

It's the mystery of the month. We can only imagine the drama that unfolded at a luxury hotel in Sandton last Sunday night. The guests at The Capital 20 West had just put on their jammies and were snuggling down to a quiet Sunday night of satellite telly when an ear-splitting screech reverberated through the corridors. Like all sensible citizens they acted with alacrity, crawling deeper under their duvets.
We can now deduce that the spectacular shriek emanated from Zimbabwe's First Lady as she lashed out with the well-rehearsed technique of a plantation slaveholder at her unsuspecting target: 20-year-old model Gabriella Engels.
We now know that Grace Mugabe's weapon of choice was an extension cord with a plug attached. A cord designed to conduct power from point A to point B would not immediately strike one as a lethal weapon, but Grace is obviously an old hand at creative improvisation. A skill that must have helped her advance from the presidential typewriter to the presidential bed.
But what of poor Gabriella? Her only discernible misdemeanour was to fraternise with Zimbabwe's First Sons and thus show a decided lack of judgment in her choice of playmates. For that she got a brutal gash on the head.
Stormed out
What could possibly have incited Grace's spectacular tantrum? Did she suddenly have the urge to practise the sjambokking technique required to subjugate servants at the First Residence in Harare? Did Gabriella involuntarily snigger at her Ferragamo slingbacks? Or send her regards to Morgan Tsvangirai? Perhaps she asked after Bob's health?
We will probably never know the details.After bashing her victim, the First Fugitive stormed out of the hotel. At the time of writing she had not been spotted in public.
One can only imagine the dialogue between Grace and her chief bodyguard as they sped off to one of her opulent boltholes: "Madam Leader, your hotel room aerobics were totally unbecoming. You could have torn your Chanel suit!"
But why pick on Grace? The bubble of privilege distorts reality for all who float in it - be they dictators, moguls, Hollywood notables or dictator wives.
The privileged are never short of creative ways to flash their excess, demonstrate their neuroses or find excuses to express their rage.
Out of touch
There's the tale of the aristocrat and his lavatory. Filthy rich Marmaduke Furness insisted on new shoelaces for his shoes each day. They had to be ironed before being brought to his bedchamber. Furness had his own train with his own large lavatory complete with gold chain and ivory handle. During one trip the steward forgot to supply toilet paper, so Furness resorted to using £5 notes. Needless to say the steward was fired.
Then there's the story of the perilous pudding. In 1943 the Big Three, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, met in Tehran for a critical World War 2 summit. During one of their lavish banquets (no rationing in solidarity with the people) a lavish dessert of ice and cream slid out of a waiter's hands and exploded on the head of Stalin's interpreter. According to witnesses, he carried on translating his leader's words without missing a beat. Rather a mouthful of cream than permanent timeshare in a gulag.Then there's the actress and the urchin. Angelina Jolie, Hollywood's poster girl for humanitarian causes, demonstrates a terrible lack of empathy with real human beings. The high priestess of politically correct causes told a Vanity Fair reporter that she found the child lead for her film on the Khmer Rouge by tempting deprived Cambodian kids with cash - and then snatching it away. Jolie claimed she was misrepresented in the article. Vanity Fair pulled out the interview tapes. (No wonder Brad bailed.)
As for Zimbabwe's First Delinquents? Two days after their mother's implosion, 25-year-old Robert jnr posted a picture of himself, brother Chatunga and friends chilling in Joburg, with the caption: "They keep on talking, we keep on rolling."
Tearaway twins
Quite right. Robert Lite has obviously inherited his father's ability to read a situation. We all know it's highly unlikely Grace will be escorted kwela-kwela style to appear in front of a local arbiter of the law.
Our lauded justice system - the one that conveniently allowed the only sitting president wanted for crimes against humanity to oil his way out of South Africa in 2015 - is unlikely to throw the book at Bob's missus.
The tearaway twins have been popping corks in Johannesburg since earlier this year and, true to type, were booted out of another Sandton hotel for bad behaviour last month.
The New Zimbabwe website reports somebody posted a $3,000 (R39,000) bill they had run up, almost three times the average annual income for beleaguered Zimbabweans.
Their appetite for academic achievement is as dismal as their dad's attitude towards democratic rule. Robert jnr has been kicked out of educational institutions in China and Dubai.
Twenty-year-old Chatunga, who likes to post pics of Armand de Brignac champagne, was expelled from a Catholic school in Harare for "wayward" behaviour.
In the past Grace has been quick to report that highly educated Robert Mugabe snr takes an interest in his children. On her 50th birthday two years ago, Grace told state-owned media that when she was out of town Chatunga slept in the presidential bed with Dad so the two could talk.

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