Grace turns up for the Rome beatification

ROME – First Lady Grace Mugabe has been seen for the first time in public since April 7 when she flew to Asia amid reports that she was seeking hospital treatment for a dislocated hip.

The 45-year-old was photographed arriving in Rome on Saturday with President Robert Mugabe. The couple returned home on Wednesday after Mugabe flew out last week – his fifth trip to the Far East this year — to bring her home.

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Mugabe and his wife are in Rome for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul 11 at the Vatican.

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Despite newspaper reports that she dislocated her hip in a bathtub slip, the First Lady showed no discomfort as she arrived at Rome’s main airport on a special Air Zimbabwe flight with her husband.

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Her apparent good health will lend credence to recent media speculation that the real reason for her trip to the Far East may relate to a degree programme she is reportedly undertaking with a Chinese university.

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Mugabe’s trips to Singapore, said to cost US$600,000 each, have concerned Finance Minister Tendai Biti who warned last week that the bill for foreign travel by ministers could top US$50 million this year.