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Gucci Grace: Robert Mugabe’s flamboyant widow

 Grace Mugabe was born in South Africa before immigrating to Zimbabwe (Photo: Philimon Bulawayo via Times)

Very few first ladies have caused as much controversy as Grace Mugabe in Africa.

‘Gucci Grace’, as some have derisively christened her, is the second wife of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe who died Friday.

She earned the sobriquet for her flamboyant shopping sprees to fashion capitals as Zimbabweans starved.

 She married Robert Mugabe in 1996 and the two have three children (Photo: CNN)

The fourth of five children, Grace was born in Gauteng, South Africa. Her family moved to Zimbabwe in 1970 and settled in Chivhu, a town south of Harare. It was there that Grace got her primary and secondary school education.

She graduated from Renmin University, China, in 2011 with a degree in Chinese. She was also granted her PhD in 2014 from the University of Zimbabwe, a move that brought with it backlash since she had only been enrolled for the course for two months.

At the age of 18, Grace married Stanley Goreraza and a year later their son, Russell was born.

Grace met Mugabe while she was working as his secretary. Their first child, Bona, was born in 1988. A son, Robert Peter Jr., came afterwards while Chatunga their third child, was born in 1997.

 Grace's flamboyant lifestyle made her the talk of the town (Photo: BBC)

A girl of humble beginnings, her lavish wedding in 1996, following the death of Mugabe’s first wife Sally Hayfron, was dubbed the wedding of the century.

Her involvement in Mugabe’s ZANU-PF increased her prominence and was at one time thought to be harbouring plans to succeed her aging husband.

 Her involvement in Mugabe’s ZANU-PF increased her prominence (Photo: REX/Shutterstock via Mirror)

In 2014, she accused Joice Mujuru, the then vice president, of plotting against her husband (Mugabe). A move that consequently saw Mujuru removed as Mugabe’s successor and cleared the way for Grace’s nomination as the ZANU-PF Women’s League head.

She is also alleged to have played a role in the ouster of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the then vice-president, in 2017.

At the time of her husband’s ousting, Grace Mugabe’s popularity had reached an all-time low. Her lavish lifestyle amidst the financial struggles of Zimbabweans, according to critics, contributed to her husband being removed from office in 2018.

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