Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his under fire wife Grace on Wednesday snubbed a rally that was organised by their ruling Zanu-PF party faithful to show support for the First Lady, who is facing a backlash for assaulting a 20 year-old South African model.
Zanu-PF supporters marched through the streets of the capital to their party’s headquarters.
Instead of being at the rally that was attended by thousands of his loyalists, president Mugabe chose to officiate at a conference of teachers that was being held about 100m away from where his supporters were gathered.
It was not clear why the Mugabes snubbed the event although insiders claimed that the First Family feared their attendance at the event where the First Lady’s victim, Gabriella Engels, was being ridiculed could further strain diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa following Grace’s wrath in Johannesburg.
Since she attacked Engels at the Capital West 20 hotel in Sandton on August 13, the First Lady appeared in public only once when she showed up at the official opening of the Harare Agricultural Show last week Friday.
At the rally, some held placards that denigrated Engels, who was assaulted by Grace using an extension cord after she was found in the company of one of his two sons at a hotel in Johannesburg’s leafy suburb of Sandton.
Following the incident, Engels filed a report with South African police resulting in the Zimbabwean First Lady seeking diplomatic immunity that was granted by South African authorities.
Meanwhile, while Zanu-PF supporters were showing solidarity with Grace, some opposition activists were protesting at the South African embassy in Harare demanding an explanation from the Jacob Zuma administration on why it allowed Mugabe’s wife to evade justice in South Africa.