Reports coming out of Harare indicate Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has reportedly withdrawn former first lady Grace Mugabe’s state security detail.
Mrs Mugabe, who was ousted as Zanu-PF women’s league president and out of the party in November, had her own security team against the rules. It is reported it was progressively withdrawn until this past Monday.
Her security team was previously headed by a police commissioner, Olga Bungu. Bungu is now reportedly operating from the “commissioner’s pool” at the police general headquarters in Harare.
“She no longer has a team that is dedicated to her. 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,” Zimbabwe’s News Day quoted an anonymous source.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba reportedly declined to comment on the matter and instead referred the publication to the new Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-general, Isaac Moyo, and the Police Protection Unit in charge of Mugabe’s security.
“The CIO and police would give you a correct position on the matter. 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,” Charamba, who was previously chastised by Grace in public for failing to organise adequate press coverage during rallies was quoted as saying.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she was unaware whether Bungu was still attached to the former First Lady. “I don’t know, I will need to find out,” she reportedly said.
A recent Government Gazette disclosed that Mugabe’s security team has been slashed to a minimum of six officers and its size could be varied depending on circumstances.
In addition, Mugabe is entitled to a salary equivalent to that of the sitting president, two drivers, two private secretaries and two aide-de-camp officers or personal assistants and two office attendants.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said as first ladies do not have separate security, the move should be viewed as downgrading and not a 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. Even the current First Lady [Auxillia Mnangagwa], she benefits from the team that is responsible for the President because you cannot separate the two,” he explained.