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Saturday, January 3, 2015

women, power and arrogance - the not so liked ladies !!

Marikina, located in the island of Luzonin the Philippines, is one of the cities that make up Metro Manila, the National Capital Region.  It is known as ‘Shoe Capital’  of the Philippines because of its notable shoe industry, being the biggest manufacturer of shoes in the Philippines.  The Shoe Museum here houses part of the famous shoe collection of the former First Lady Imelda Marcos, shoes of some of the world leaders and celebrities and shoes of different countries, making it the world's largest collection of pair of shoes in a museum.
Mrs Marcos with prized collections of arts

Sometime back there were reports that the shoe collection of Imelda stand damaged by termites, floods and general neglect.  The Marcoses fled the Philippines at the climax of the army-backed 'people power' revolt in 1986 and left behind staggering amounts of personal belongings, clothes and art objects at the palace, including at least 1,220 pairs of the former first lady's shoes.  In history, there are stories of women in power tarnished by their arrogance.  Imelda Marcos,  the widow of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, is often remembered for her collection of more than a thousand pairs of shoes. Mr Marcos was forced out of office in 1986; went out of the country – she returned and got elected to the House of Representatives in 1995 for Leyte, and again in 2010 for Ilocos Norte. Despite facing numerous allegations of the family's source of wealth, she was not imprisoned on these charges. She continued to wield power, and her ability to survive upheavals in her life has led her to be called the "Steel Butterfly". A couple of years ago, artworks belonging to her were seized by authorities claiming that they were acquired with stolen State funds. Pablo Picasso's Reclining Woman VI, Michelangelo's Madonna and Child, and a still life by Paul Gauguin are among those the Philippine courts are keen to seize.

Miles away in African country of Zimbabwe – the woman boasts of supernatural powers and plunders Zimbabwe's diamonds to buy designer shoes. Now a nervous nation asks: Is 'Gucci' Grace Mugabe about to be the world's first female dictator?

She has been called many things since the moment when, barely out of her teens, she caught the eye of the president of Zimbabwe as she tapped away in his typing pool.  Now his wife, she styles herself ‘Amai’ (mother) for her supporters but, behind her back, is derided as Gucci Grace and The First Shopper, a reflection of her extravagant spending in designer shops around the world despite the struggles of her country. 

Others simply call her Dis Grace, especially those who believe she forced her 90-year-old husband Robert to remain in power so she could plunder Zimbabwe’s diamond wealth to fund her overseas shopping trips. But now a nervous nation fears she could soon have a new title: President.

For this reviled woman has stepped, in her costly Ferragamo shoes, into the political arena, exploding a titanic power struggle to succeed the increasingly doddery despot who has ruled Zimbabwe so disastrously for more than three decades. The 49-year-old has stoked such fears by touring the country by helicopter, holding mass rallies and pouring scorn on her rivals. ‘The time has come to show people what I am made of,’ she told one crowd. ‘I had never dreamed of entering politics but you have approached me and I am ready to go.’ At another rally a few weeks later, the South African-born first lady said: ‘Some say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not Zimbabwean too?’ Most of her fellow citizens see this as a chilling prospect that threatens to plunge their beautiful but tormented country into fresh despair.

Grace Mugabe is, quite simply, loathed. ‘She is an avaricious monster with a vindictive nature, who makes Imelda Marcos look mild by comparison,’  one is quoted as saying. Diplomats believe she is stealing vast chunks of the nation’s wealth from diamond mines. She blew £3million of state funds on her daughter’s wedding earlier this year and defends wearing her Italian designer shoes while people starve on the basis that she has ‘narrow feet’. Suddenly the public buses in Harare are bearing huge images of her hated face. She has been given a doctorate in sociology after a two months of supposed study and ministers are gushing about the ‘guidance and leadership’ of a woman ‘who is a mother to us all’.

The country has long been transfixed by a battle between two powerful rivals who loathe each other. On one side is sinister justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former spy chief nicknamed The Crocodile, who is thought to represent party hardliners and own substantial gold and diamond mining interests. The other camp is led by Joice Mujuru, vice president since 2004 and a liberation struggle veteran who fought under the nom de guerre Teurai Ropa (‘Spill Blood’ in the native Shona language). During a ten-rally tour of the country, the first lady tore into Mujuru in the most vitriolic terms, calling her ‘corrupt’ and ‘a liar’ needing exposure.

If Mugabe’s wife were to inherit his throne it would be a remarkable rise to power for the former secretary, who began an affair with the president as his popular first wife Sally lay dying of cancer.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Nov 2014

PS: Grace Mugabe story reproduced from Daily Mail.

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