By Robin Muchetu
The widow of former President Canaan Sodindo Banana, Mrs Janet Madade Banana, who returned to Zimbabwe after an 18-year stay in the United Kingdom is admitted at a private hospital in Bulawayo where President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ordered relevant organs of the Government to cater for her medical bills and ensure that she starts receiving her pension.
Mugabe and his first wife Sally with Canaan Banana and his wife Janet in 1980. (AFP) Mrs Banana (83) is the widow of Rev Banana who was the country’s first President and was in office from 1980 to 1987.
Sunday News visited Mrs Banana on Friday where she said she was recovering well;
“I have been back in the country for four months now and I have not been feeling well as you can see I am hospitalised. I came thinking I was going for a holiday to enjoy then illness struck me. So I had to be hospitalised first in South Africa then I was admitted here in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Mrs Banana acknowledged that the Government has been supporting her since her return and has even provided her with security.
“Yes, the Government has been supporting me very much in my treatment since I arrived. The problem is that I am in and out of hospital and the thing is I don’t know when I will recover from this illness,” she added.
Mrs Banana said she was indebted to President Mnangagwa for the aid that she has been given so far.
“I would like to say thank you very much to President Mnangagwa for the support he has given me since my return to Zimbabwe. All the efforts that they have been making together with those that work with him are excellent.
“I was away for 18 years and I am very grateful for the assistance that has been rendered to me by the Government of Zimbabwe. The Government is in the process of processing my dues and other things and I am just waiting for them to conclude their work but it is in order.”
Asked on whether she would return to her UK base, Mrs Banana said she was uncertain.
“I am not sure of my future plans. As you can see I am old now and maybe this is the time to consider coming back home for good and settle here and do some farming, join others in the farms. I have many people who will help me,” she said.
Her son Nathan who was on her bedside said it has been an emotional four months following his mother’s return and commended the Government for taking care of her.
“We are happy that our mother has been receiving good care, the whole family is happy, again we are excited for her return.
“The Government is doing well for her and it is just a matter of time before things improve in our country as you can see our economy has been struggling. People need to be patient with the nation and things will be okay,” he said.
Sources added that the Government was also in the process of securing housing for her.
The Deputy Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) Mr George Charamba, however, said;
“as a matter of fact all First Ladies get a spousal benefit or allowance.” He added, “About a pension you need to check with the Pensions Department or Minister Sekai Nzenza about that. I am not competent enough to give a position at the moment,” he said. Sunday News
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