People take part in a rally to support the First Family in Harare, Zimbabwe on Aug. 30, 2017. A rally organized by the Zimbabwean ruling party Zanu-PF in solidarity with First Lady Grace Mugabe Wednesday ended up being held to show support to the First Family as a whole. (Xinhua/Stringer)
HARARE, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- A rally organized by the Zimbabwean ruling party Zanu-PF in solidarity with First Lady Grace Mugabe Wednesday ended up being held to show support to the First Family as a whole, with the party's secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo being the guest of honor.
Messages delivered at the gathering hovered around the issue of internal party squabbles and ignored the diplomatic tiff the First Lady was involved in while in South Africa two weeks ago.
The First Lady had to invoke diplomatic immunity cover to evade court after she allegedly assaulted 20-year-old model Gabriella Engels whom she had found in the company of her two sons in their room.
With the South African police wanting to interview her and human rights group AfriForum pushing for her prosecution, the South African government said it recognized her diplomatic immunity status and allowed her to leave the country.
Grace left with President Robert Mugabe who had been attending a SADC summit there.
While commissar for Harare Province, Shadreck Mashayamombe denied Tuesday that the solidarity rally had anything to do with what transpired in South Africa, one of the placards displayed at the rally -- written in a mixture of English and the vernacular Shona -- said Masvingo Province had declared that "Engels is not an angel."
Many Zimbabweans had however expressed concern over a possible backlash by militant South Africans who could attack their loved ones there if the rally turned out to be supporting the First Lady over the South African incident.
Chombo spoke on the need for discipline in the party and preparations for the 2018 elections.
"If we love our President and the First Lady, just as we have displayed by today's meeting, let's take the same enthusiasm and energy to our provinces and vote so that we deliver all the constituencies to Zanu-PF. The First Lady and President Mugabe will be very happy," he said.
He also criticized some war veterans for engaging in divisive activities in the party.