Monday 27 August 2018


Zimbabwe's ousted former leader, Robert Mugabe, yesterday shocked the nation when he made a stunning about-turn — moving to end his long-running feud with President Emmerson Mnangagwa by congratulating his successor for winning the hotly-disputed July 30 presidential poll.

Since his dramatic fall from power in November last year, on the back of a military intervention, the increasingly frail nonagenarian and his wife, Grace had not hidden their bitterness and disdain for Mnangagwa and his administration.

And on the eve of last month’s national elections, the former long-ruling leader of the country went on to throw the cat among the pigeons when he publicly endorsed opposition leader Nelson Chamisa — before telling the nation that he would never vote for Mnangagwa and Zanu PF.

But yesterday, Mugabe moved to end months of his acrimonious relationship with his once long-time confidant by sending his daughter Bona and her husband Simba Chikore to deliver a special congratulatory message from him and Grace as Mnangagwa was being inaugurated in Harare.

The sickly 94-year-old and Grace were unable to attend the big occasion due to their poor health, which has seen the latter flying to Singapore for medical attention.

On their part, authorities had also reached out to the former first family by listing them among the dignitaries who were slated to shake hands with Mnangagwa at the inauguration ceremony at the National Sports Stadium.

“Your Excellency, thank you for your invitation, my wife is not well in Singapore, I am also not well, so I am sending my daughter and son-in-law to represent us.

Congratulations,” Mugabe said in his surprise message that was read by Mnangagwa as he delivered his main address to thousands of people who packed the giant stadium.
This was despite the fact that on the eve of the historic July 30 polls, Mugabe had done all in his power to derail Mnangagwa’s and the ruling Zanu PF’s electoral bids, saying the “new” dispensation was illegitimate.

“Today (July 29) is a better day, I hope it will still be a better day tomorrow. I’m sure the good Lord will help us to bring a better day tomorrow.

“Let tomorrow decide ... there should be a big no to guns directing politics. We shall never again experience a time when an army is used in politics.
“I have never met Chamisa. I wish to meet him if he wins. I can’t vote for those who’ve caused me to be in this situation.

“I hope the voting which will be done tomorrow will thrash away the military form of government and bring us back to constitutionality,” Mugabe told journalists then at his Borrowdale mansion, which is popularly known as the Blue Roof.

Political analysts told the Daily News yesterday that it was clear that despite his anger at losing power last year, Mugabe still had Zanu PF at heart — and that his latest move was a bid to try and pacify his former comrades.

“Mugabe is a political grandmaster and a master opportunist. His gamble with the Chamisa endorsement failed ... and they (Mugabe and Mnangagwa) are now trying to find each other.
“He is still hardcore Zanu PF ... and believes that the liberation war entitles him and his kind to have a part in the leadership of Zimbabwe.

“He also probably got bad advice from misguided G40 kingpins. Now that Mnangagwa has got the crown, it has dawned on the nonagenarian that Mnangagwa is indeed Zimbabwe’s new president.

“And for the safety of his kids, wife and family once he is gone, he also has to climb down and sit down with Mnangagwa,” political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said.
University of Zimbabwe politics expert Eldred Masunungure also said Mugabe and his family may have realised that there was nothing to be gained by continuing to brawl with Mnangagwa.

“Assuming that he did send Bona to represent him, it means that there is some residual respect to the Zanu PF name ... a party that he did not vote for.

“This is very unlike Mugabe. He is a stubborn person and might have been persuaded by Bona or a member of the family … as they are looking at their future interests.
“Everyone realises that Mugabe is in the twilight of his life, and the children want to secure their future … they do not want to be seen as enemies of the State,” Masunungure told the Daily News.

Mugabe’s move comes as angry war veterans have petitioned Mnangagwa’s government to scrap the nonagenarian’s name from the country’s biggest airport — which was named after him before the November military intervention.

“We are going to demand the removal of Robert Mugabe’s name from the international airport in Harare.

“He does not deserve such an honour as he has taken a betrayal stance. He has strayed and chosen an unholy matrimony with MDC,” a fuming war veterans secretary general Victor Matemandanda said last week.

Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri also lashed Mugabe last week, saying he had betrayed the revolution by backing the opposition.

“It is so disturbing to hear that Mugabe, whom we worked with for over 30 years, is the one who is now going the opposite way.

“If I knew that Mugabe is of such character I was not going to join the war. He made the innocent souls to die for nothing,” she said.

Apart from scrapping Mugabe’s name from the airport, war veterans also want their former patron to be dispossessed of his multiple farms, as punishment for “siding” with Chamisa.
Recently, Mnangagwa had also hinted that Mugabe and his family could indeed lose some of their farms.

“I am still receiving evidence of what the (former) first family had. When that process is complete they will select one farm and the rest will be given elsewhere.

“It’s not a question of voluntary giving up, but about complying with the policy,” Mnangagwa told foreign media early this month.

Mugabe resigned from office late last year, a few hours after Parliament had initiated proceedings to impeach him — after he had refused to leave office during eight tense days that began with the military intervening in the governance of the country.

The operation also saw the nonagenarian and the unhinged Grace being placed under house arrest, while several Cabinet ministers linked to the Generation 40 faction — which had coalesced around the Mugabes — were also targeted.

The annihilated G40 was, before the military intervention, locked in a bitter war with Mnangagwa and his supporters for the control of both Zanu PF and the country. Daily News


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