HARARE – First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa has inadvertently confirmed wide fears she could have encroached into government affairs during her mysterious trip to Belarus, telling the East European country’s media she discussed “absolutely everything” with President Alexander Lukashenko.
Auxillia and sons, Collin and Sean last week reportedly chartered the Gulfstream G550 private plane that costs around US$10,900 per hour in hiring charges.
It takes an average of 10 hours to travel from Harare to Minsk, the Belarusian capital.
The First Lady was quoted by Belarusian media saying there were “no closed topics” during her meeting with Lukashenko.
“We had a wonderful meeting with Mr President. There were no closed topics between us. I felt absolutely at home,” she said.
“We discussed absolutely everything. I can see now that our co-operation will move forward.
“He [the Belarusian president] has one important thing that we have, too. He is able and willing to work hard.”
There are wide concerns the First Lady could have dabbled in state affairs, a crime which the now incumbent and allies once accused then President Robert Mugabe after his surviving wife presumably usurped state powers from the late Zimbabwe dictator.
Mugabe was dethroned in a November 2017 military coup that was clothed in the ostensible reason of restoring legacy.
Similarly, Mnangagwa’s wife is not a state actor and cannot, under the country’s constitution, conduct any official government business.
President Mnangagwa’s wife in known for her philanthropic work which she has gracefully undertaken without the involvement of her sons.
There have also been concerns the Mnangagwas could be pursuing private family business using state resources, following the inclusion of other family members on the trip.
President Mnangagwa’s wife also broke from her tradition of travelling with state media journalists in what adds more mystery to the trip.
Attempts by local private media to seek clarity on the object of the trip with Zimbabwean authorities all fell flat with Presidential communications secretary Regis Chikowore saying he could not comment on matters involving the First Lady.
“The First Lady has her own office, you can call it or talk to Charamba,” he said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba kept saying: “Hello, hello, hello” when asked whether the First Lady’s Belarus visit was official or private.
Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Livit Mugejo also referred all questions to the First Lady’s office.
“I cannot comment on the First Lady, she has her spokesperson in her office,” he said.
According to Auxilia’s itinerary, she toured the Khatyn Memorial Complex: A tribute to about three million Belarusians who died during the Great Patriotic War.
Her visit to the East European country came days after a delegation from Belarus visited Zimbabwe and met officials from the Local Government ministry over a controversial fire tenders’ deal.-Zimlive