President Emmerson Mnangagwa is facing allegations of allowing his wife Auxilia “to usurp constitutional power”.
Analysts said Mnangagwa’s wife has no right to run government, and questioned in what capacity she met striking doctors when she has no constitutional role in the State bureaucracy.
Auxillia met with doctors at State House on Friday, in a bid to end the five week-long industrial action. While Auxilia was meeting with the doctors, her husband was taking part in a clean-up campaign in Harare’s red-light district of the Avenues.
It’s deja vu, some said, drawing parallels with Grace Mugabe, whose meddling in government affairs prompted the ruling Zanu PF party to begin impeachment proceedings against Robert Mugabe on charges that included allowing his wife “to usurp constitutional power.”
United Kingdom-based law lecturer Alex Magaisa said Zimbabwe was walking down the same path that led to Mugabe’s ouster.
“Lest we forget, this was part of the impeachment motion against Robert Mugabe in 2017: Allowing his wife to usurp government functions and abrogating his constitutional mandate to his wife…,” Magaisa said.
However, government defended the first lady’s meeting with doctors.
Deputy Information minister Energy Mutodi told the Daily News that the doctors are actually the ones who asked to meet with the first lady in order for her to assist in the impasse.
“The First Lady did not poke her nose into the doctors’ strike issue. Rather it is the doctors themselves who canvassed for her attention and as a mother of the nation she could not ignore them.
“The doctors believed she was the right person through which to air their grievances to the president and as the government we do not see anything untoward in her conduct especially listening to professionals whose strike action can trigger many avoidable deaths,” Mutodi said.
But Thabiso Bhebhe secretary of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association said he was away in Bulawayo when the meeting was convened. However, a doctor who declined to be named said it was in fact the first lady who requested the meeting.
Linda Masarira, the spokesperson of the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T party, questioned the first lady’s role in the industrial action.
“What is the role of the first lady in Zimbabwe? I am worried when I start seeing some traits we disapproved on the conduct of the former first lady Grace Mugabe. In what capacity does she intervene on the doctors’ strike?” she queried.
Spokesperson of the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC, Jacob Mafume, said the country has tried to use the first lady before and it has proved that it does not work.
“It’s like a bad Kung Fu movie, ‘The Return of the First Lady – Monkey Business’. We have tried this first lady route, it does not work. These liberation war fighters are now old men who should be in old people’s homes because of what they went through.
“The young wives know it and that’s why they feel the need to assist these out-patients…The guy (Mnangagwa) would rather sweep the streets in neck tie than deal with people dying and hospitals collapsing,” Mafume said.