FORMER First Lady Grace Mugabe has unceremoniously abdicated her duties as patron of Danhiko Project — a Harare-based welfare organisation catering for physically-challenged children.
Sources close to the institution told NewsDay Weekender yesterday that Danhiko Project’s management approached Grace last week inquiring whether she would be able to continue helping out with sourcing of mobility equipment, food and other ancillaries, and she told them she was no longer part of the project.
“Management approached Grace last week because she had been quiet despite the fact that as patron, she has an obligation to help with sourcing for funding to help in the procurement of mobility equipment such as crutches and wheelchairs,” a source said.
“This is a programme that runs through December every year, but she had just been quiet. Grace was unamused by the approach and told them to find help ‘elsewhere’. She told them she is unable to help now. Management has since approached other well-wishers, including Kadoma businessman and Zanu PF activist Jimayi Muduvuri. Muduvuri today (Thursday) donated groceries and promised to help going forward,” the source added.
Grace has been eerily quiet since her husband was forced to resign last month after a military intervention that also saw her expelled from Zanu PF as Mugabe’s former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, took over as Zanu PF and government leader.
Grace had served as patron of Danhiko Project for decades since her marriage to Mugabe in the mid-1990s. Danhiko Project director Godfrey Majonga confirmed the welfare institution has been struggling and has gone out with a begging bowl to seek help.
“Even though the children are on holiday now, we still need to stock up on food and equipment so that when they come back in January we are ready. We have approached a few people, but nothing concrete now except for Mr Muduvuri, who was here today (Thursday) with groceries. We continue to seek funding and pledges from those who can help,” he said.
Majonga declined to comment about Grace’s new status since change of government last month. “The board has been discussing this issue and I am certain they would have engaged her (Grace). However, we have not been favoured with progress or lack thereof regarding the issue,” he said.
NewsDay Weekender is, however, reliably informed that Danhiko Project management had sought Muduvuri’s help to coax First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa to take over from Grace.
“Management asked Muduvuri to approach Auxillia and find out if she cannot take over as patron. He agreed to relay the request,” another source said.
Muduvuri reportedly donated a vehicle to Danhiko Project last year that Grace failed to acknowledge.
“She refused to meet him and management today (Thursday) thanked him for the donation anyhow,” NewsDay Weekender was told. Muduvuri confirmed he would be approaching Auxilia.
“It’s true, but I am yet to approach her. I have set the pace by donating and I wanted to show the people at Danhiko that it [Grace walking away] is not the end of the world. There are people still willing to work for the good of our society.
“I will be approaching the First Lady anytime from now so that she takes over as patron. I have no doubt that she will take up the challenge,” he said. Newsday