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.

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