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Africa

Zimbabwe's former first lady faces fresh assault allegations

media Grace Mugabe, l'épouse du président zimbabwéen pendant un rassemblement dans un stade d'Harare, le 5 novembre 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s former first lady, Grace Mugabe is in the news again: this time for allegedly assaulting her former housekeeper two years ago.

Grace Mugabe is alleged to have assaulted Shupikai Chiroodza with her shoe and her fists, drawing blood.

What reportedly riled the ex-president’s wife was the fact that Chiroodza accepted a gift of cash from Mugabe as a wedding present.

Grace Mugabe accused Chiroodza of "milking my husband behind my back" and demanded the money back.

The details are contained in court papers filed by Chiroodza at the Harare High Court, challenging her dismissal from government service two months after the alleged assault in March 2017.

Local press reports say that the Civil Service Commission is negotiating an out-of-court settlement with Chiroodza. Grace Mugabe is not expected to make a court appearance over the matter.

The case has stirred interest in Zimbabwe. Grace Mugabe’s alleged assault against Chiroodza occurred five months before she made international headlines in 2017 for allegedly whipping South African model Gabriella Engels in a Johannesburg hotel room.

Grace Mugabe was initially granted diplomatic immunity from prosecution, though South African prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant against her last December.

Inflation still rising

Aside from the Mugabes, life for ordinary Zimbabweans is getting harder.

Figures published on Wednesday say annual inflation has quickened to 75.8 percent, from 66 percent in March. Even this figure is deemed conservative though, because official inflation is measured against a fairly limited range of basic goods. US-based economist Steve Hanke says the real figure is 238 percent. 

To make matters worse, gruelling scheduled power outages have gripped the country this week. The main hydro-power station on Lake Kariba, in the north of the country, is cutting back on power generation due to falling water levels on the back of this year’s poor rains.

Precious Shumba, director of the Harare Residents Trust told RFI that the power cuts are worsening hardships for Harare’s poorest.

In the absence of adequate power supplies, residents have to find alternatives including gas, firewood, candles and paraffin.

“All these are in short supply and their cost is beyond the reach of the majority poor who live in Harare,” he said.

In response to the growing crisis, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has replaced Energy Minister Joram Gumbo with Fortune Chasi, the deputy transport minister.

Chasi has a reputation for hard work and is popular with Zimbabweans because he is easy to engage with on social media.

Many congratulated him on Twitter as news of his promotion spread, though he tweeted that his new role would not be “a walk in the park.”

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