Grace Mugabe: The First Shopper
First Lady. Grace Mugabe is known as the First Shopper of Zimbabwe. The former secretary and mistress of Robert Mugabe, she laid bare her appetite for all things luxurious when the pair finally married in 1996, inviting 12,000 people to the wedding, the most lavish event the country had ever seen.
Forty years her senior, President Mugabe bowed to his young bride's request for a grand family mansion in Harare, and no expense was spared on the decor. He also commandeered the national airline to whisk her around the world on elaborate shopping sprees.
The latest destination for the Imelda Marcos of Africa is the Eternal City, where she is ensconced on the Via Veneto, a stone's throw from Rome's many designer shops. Confronted with her opulent tastes while her homeland teeters on the brink, she goes on the defensive, telling one reporter who tailed her on a previous trip around the boutiques of Paris: "Is it a crime to go shopping? These shops are here for people to shop in."