HARARE: Shocking claims have emerged that although ousted former president Robert Mugabe (pictured) was a much-feared leader both at home and abroad, even in his dotage, he was allegedly a “helpless” victim of domestic abuse by his volatile wife Grace by the time he fell from power.
Although allegations to this effect had long been whispered within the corridors of power, ex-aides of the former first family lifted the veil of secrecy around their troubled lives at the weekend, telling the Daily News on Sunday that Mugabe was “a broken man” when the military intervened in the governance of the country last year.
Indeed, so widespread had talk around Mugabe’s apparent political incapacitation and alleged domestic abuse become at the height of Zanu PF’s brutal tribal, factional and succession wars, that fearless former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda spoke publicly in October 2014 of a “bedroom coup” at State House — a statement which later led to his arrest.
It didn’t help to douse Harare’s rampant rumour mill that the nonagenarian himself later openly told delegates at the ruling party’s hotly-disputed elective congress of that year that Grace was the boss in his home, and that she always dictated to him what to do — and that he had no choice but to follow her instructions to the letter.
“Gushungo (Mugabe) was in serious trouble from Amai (Grace) for many years, and at one time one of his children (name supplied but withheld) was even forced by the circumstances to approach General … (name of the retired top securocrat supplied but withheld) who is distantly related to the family, to tell him that the former president was being badly beaten and abused by his wife.
“The situation was so bad that there was even a serious consideration by the military top brass to take the then president, as their commander-in-chief at the time, to the safety of Tongogara Barracks since he was no longer safe at home,” one of the well-placed former aides told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday.
Another former aide of the increasingly frail nonagenarian — who sounded pitifully incoherent when he entertained a select group of mainly foreign media at his Blue Roof mansion in Harare last month, where he couldn’t remember that Grace had been a senior Zanu PF official and an untouchable power broker at the time he fell from power — appeared to corroborate the claims.
“I don’t think that it’s right for me or for anyone for that matter to get into the details of the lives and their difficulties of Baba naAmai … suffice to say that they sometimes had their challenges like all people, and it didn’t help that there is a significant ideological and age difference between them,” the second former aide said, refusing to shed more light.
Repeated efforts yesterday to reach Mugabe and Grace yesterday for a comment drew a blank, amid reports that the former first lady is currently away in Singapore, on unspecified business.