PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace is insensitive and far removed from reality, analysts said yesterday, roundly condemning her for suggesting that Matabeleland men were fond of impregnating women and skipping the border to South Africa.

Grace, during her address to Zanu PF supporters in Gwanda on Monday, insinuated that Matabeleland men were not exerting energies to develop the region, as they were escaping to South Africa, leaving their wives and children suffering.

The First Lady, a recipient of a contentious doctorate, said her studies showed that families were disintegrating because of men leaving their wives and trekking to foreign lands.

"These are unfortunate utterances from a first lady. It demonstrates that we have a greedy, arrogant, incompetent and uncaring group of elites. Men and women, who would rather insult ordinary, hardworking, but poorly governed citizens, justifying and perpetuating their power and privilege," Thabani Nyoni, a former director of Bulawayo Agenda, said.

Nyoni said maybe due to her privileged status, Grace was blind to the suffering of ordinary people.

MDC spokesperson, Nhlanhla Dube, indicated that Grace should realise that Mugabe, in power since 1980, is to blame for the exodus of Zimbabweans to foreign lands to seek jobs and a better life.

"Normally PhD graduates do not speak to complex issues from whim and thumb suck, as they understand the value of verifiability. Men, women and children risk wild animals and flooded rivers crossing borders to seek a better life and reprieve from joblessness, corruption, centralisation and resource hoarding decisions emanating from her house," he said.

Mugabe last year attracted criticism after he told a rally in Manicaland during the election campaigns that travelling to South Africa is a Matabeleland tradition, where men come back with nothing but blankets and bicycles.

Exiled South Africa-based consultant, Trust Matsilele said the statements by Grace were "a reflection of the character of a person who does not appreciate economic decay precipitated by her husband.

"Her response demonstrates her level of intellectual limits, further confirming that her PhD claims are nothing but fallacious. Zimbabweans are looking for a living, not even a decent one, but to keep their families afloat. Grace Mugabe is an unfortunate case in our country, without empathy and appreciation of realities on the ground," he said.

Mqondisi Moyo, leader of the Mthwakazi Republic Party, said the Zanu PF leadership in Matabeleland South was also to blame by not briefing Grace on the lack of job opportunities in the region, resulting in many trekking to neighbouring countries.

"This is a sign of disrespect . . . we are even disheartened by the top Zanu PF leadership of Matabeleland South. They were supposed to sit down with the First Lady and tell her of the problems that people of Matabeleland South face before she went to the rally so that she could address them and proffer solutions," he said.

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