Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe (née Marufu; born 23 July 1965) is an entrepreneur, politician and the widow of the late Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
She served as the First Lady of Zimbabwe from 1996 until her husband’s resignation in November 2017, a week after he was ousted from power.
Starting as a secretary to President Mugabe, she rose in the ranks of the ruling ZANU–PF party to become the head of its Women’s League and a key figure in the Generation 40 faction.
At the same time, she gained a reputation for privilege and extravagance during a period of economic turmoil in the country.
She was expelled from the party, with other G40 members, during the 2017 Zimbabwean coup d’état.
Grace Ntombizodwa was born in Benoni, South Africa to migrant parents as the fourth of five children in the family.
In 1970, she moved to Rhodesia, to live with her mother, Idah Marufu in Chivhu while her father stayed and worked in South Africa to support his family.
She attended primary school in Chivhu and then the Kriste Mambo secondary school in Manicaland.
She married air force pilot Stanley Goreraza and they had a son, Russell Goreraza, born 1984. Grace was nineteen years old at the time.
Whilst working as secretary to the president, Robert Mugabe, she became his mistress at a time when she was still married to Stanley Goreraza – and had two children, Bona born in 1988, named after Mugabe’s mother, and Robert Peter Jr.
After the death of Mugabe’s first wife, Sally Hayfron, the couple were married in an extravagant Catholic Mass (Robert Mugabe was a devout Catholic) titled the “Wedding of the Century” by the Zimbabwe press.
At the time of their marriage, Grace Marufu was 31 and Robert Mugabe was 72 years old.
In 1997, she gave birth to the couple’s third child, Chatunga Berlamine Mugabe.
Grace Mugabe enrolled as an undergraduate student at the School of Liberal Arts, Renmin University in China in 2007, studying the Chinese language. She graduated in 2011. She admitted, however, that she was not proficient in Chinese after finishing the degree.
Her mother Idah Marufu died on 31 August 2018, aged 84.
Grace Mugabe is known for her lavish lifestyle, and Western media has nicknamed her “Gucci Grace”.
The Daily Telegraph called her “notorious at home for her profligacy” in the coverage of a 2003 trip to Paris, during which she was reported as spending £75,000 (approx US$120,000) in a short shopping spree; and in the years leading up to 2004 withdrew over £5 million from the Central Bank of Zimbabwe.
When Grace Mugabe was included in the 2002 sanctions, one EU parliamentarian said that the ban would “stop Grace Mugabe going on her shopping trips in the face of catastrophic poverty blighting the people of Zimbabwe”.
She faces similar sanctions in the United States.
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