In Madagascar ex-First Lady runs for mayor; in Zimbabwe Grace Mugabe goes into ice cream and chocolate

Kenya president Kenyatta's family is leading milking processor, and in Uganda leader Museveni owns the country's largest cattle herd.

DURING the failed coup in Burundi on Wednesday and Thursday against Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza, nothing was heard of the fate of his wife, Denise Nkurunziza.

Like her husband, she is a born-again Christian, but does one better. She is the only African First Lady who has been ordained a minister of a church, and her official title is “Her Excellency Reverend Pastor Denise Nkurunziza”.

She and her husband have been known to hold all-night prayer meetings, and supporters claim they occasionally wash the feet of the poor, following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

Nkurunziza believes his ascendance to the presidency was a divine act.

Denise was probably praying for her husband, and if the past is anything to do by, the Burundian president can be expected to publicly thank her for it in the days to come.

Recent days, though, was notable for the contrasting fortunes of former and current African First Ladies.

In March, Simone Gbagbo, wife of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her part in the violence that followed the country’s 2010 presidential election.

In Madagascar, however, the wife of the country ousted president is seeking to turn First Lady luck around, with her party announcing that she plans to run in elections to become mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, Bloomberg reported.

Lalao Ravalomanana, whose husband Marc Ravalomanana was overthrown by the Indian Ocean island nation’s military in 2009, presented registration documents to electoral officials on Friday, Guy Rivo Randrianarisoa, spokesman for the Tiako I Madagasikara party, told Bloomberg by phone. She will hear whether her application was accepted on Monday, he said.

The former president was freed from house arrest earlier this month on the orders of current leader Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

Ravalomanana was detained in October 2014 after his return from exile in South Africa.

In Zimbabwe, one of the continent’s most controversial First Ladies, Grace Mugabe, for once was in the news for something other than allegedly trying to succeed her 91-year-old husband Robert Mugabe, or taking down his political rivals.

Instead, it was reported that the Alpha Omega Dairy company, that she owns, is set to unveil a new line of chocolates and ice cream.

Alpha Omega Dairy, which already produces regular milk, sour milk and yoghurt, was reported to be aiming initially for Zimbabweans with a sweet tooth with the introduction of new ice cream and chocolate products at the end of March, but there was a delay.

The new products are now expected be on the market within weeks.

Grace Mugabe’s interests in dairy matters, is not unique to her. The family of Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta has interests in milk, too, among other businesses.

Their Brookside Dairies is Kenya’s largest milk processor, and increased its grip on the industry with the acquisition of three rivals in recent months, to give it control of about 55% of the country’s dairy market.

In neighbouring Uganda, president Yoweri Museveni prides himself as a rancher of some note, and even critics concede that his knowledge of things to do with cows is substantial. He reportedly has cornered the fresh milk supply to the country’s largest processor, and also supplies a lot of beef.

His herd is believed to run in the thousands, making him the country’s largest cattle keeper.

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