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Mugabe Nephew: Zimbabwe Government ‘Ill-Treating the Old Man’

The long-awaited resignation of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe looks set to end the country's worst political crisis since independence in 1980
AFP/ANNA ZIEMINSKI
FRANCES MARTEL

Zimbabwe’s former Public Service Minister Patrick Zhuwao, nephew of deposed dictator Robert Mugabe, claimed in a column published Saturday that the current regime in Harare has “humiliated and ill-treated” Mugabe.

Zhuwao also claimed the nation’s soldiers, who turned on Mugabe, are currently plundering the nation’s government coffers after being bribed into supporting the coup.

Military officials entered Mugabe’s palace in November and, insisting that they were not participating in a coup, elicited a reluctant resignation from 93-year-old Mugabe. The action made 75-year-old former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had fled the country after Mugabe and wife Grace turned on him, the president of the country.

Zhuwao claims that Mnangagwa’s faction will soon lose control of Zimbabwe. The tension among Mugabe loyalists, Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF government, and the MDC party opposition indicate that the overthrow of Mugabe has not brought stability to the south African nation as many initially hoped.

“The military personnel that engaged in the illegal, unconstitutional, and treasonous Operation Restore Legacy were authorized to keep, as spoils of robbery and piracy, whatever money, gold, and diamonds they came across,” Zhuwao, believed to be in exile in Kenya, said in a rant posted in the New Zimbabwe newspaper. “There were no such spoils of robbery and piracy.”

“What is in effect happening,” he claims, “is that cash resources are being commandeered from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe ostensibly for ‘operations’ but in reality to appease restless elements who did not get the expected but non-existant spoils of robbery and piracy.”

Zhuwao also claims that Mugabe “continues to be humiliated and ill-treated by the coup conspirators and terrorist junta,” claiming those who deposed him had “initiated the rape and massacre of the Zimbabwe Constitution.”

Zhuwao had previously claimed in a separate interview, “They are ill-treating the old man, they went to prophets and traditional healers and were told the same that they are ill-treating the old man but they failed to change, they continue to ill-treat the old man.”

Zhuwao has not presented any evidence for his claim that Mugabe is suffering. The ruling government, meanwhile, has taken affirmative steps to prove it respects Mugabe. Mnangagwa announced the creation of a National Robert Mugabe Day shortly after becoming president. In December, Zimbabwe’s government announced that taxpayers would pay for a new mansion for Mugabe, a fleet of cars including a new Mercedes Benz, and a 20-person staff. Mugabe will also receive at most four international, first-class trips on the public dime.

Zhuwao has warned that, not only has Mnangagwa’s faction hurt Mugabe and his loyalists, but that he will run the ruling Zanu-PF party to the ground. “Under conditions of free and fair elections, Zanu-PF will be thoroughly walloped and thumped at the 2018 elections,” he said.

Presidential elections are scheduled for this year to replace Mnangagwa, who had claimed upon taking power that he would be only an interim presence before Zimbabweans went to the polls to replace Mugabe. Mnangagwa has rejected an opportunity to rule in a coalition with the MDC minority party, however, and leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is expected to run against Mnangagwa.

While some observers heralded the fall of Mugabe—whose tenure was marked by extreme political repression and defined by the genocidal operation known as “Gukurahundi,” which killed an estimated 20,000 people in 1983—as a new beginning for the country, Mnangagwa is already showing signs of maintaining the status quo. Dissidents who insult Mnangagwa have been arrested and tried in the past month and protesters, welcomed against Mugabe, have faced arrest and alleged torture.

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