ZIMBABWE RUMORS BY: CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
Following reports that Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe had been “left in turmoil” by his wife’s affair, I decided to take the high road.
Terrible, you can’t excuse adultery, I thought after the South African Sunday Times newspaper reported that Grace Mugabe, who is 41 years younger than Zimbabwe's 86-year-old president, had had a five-year affair with the big man’s closest buddy, Central Bank chief Gideon Gono.
Still, I thought this one was different. Mugabe has sent his once prosperous country, and the opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MDC) to hell and back. A shrewd political operator, he has survived many threats and close calls. After robbing the MDC of election victory last year, the matter was eventually settled by the formation of a coalition government in which he remains president, and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangrai Prime Minister. And “Uncle Bob” is still calling the shots.
Only Grace’s infidelity seems to have pierced his armour. When I suggested on my Facebook page that if a devastated Mugabe were to give up power in shame, or collapse in distress, adultery would turn out to have been the greatest democratic force of recent times in Zimbabwe, there were not many sympathisers.
Friends observed that Mugabe deserved it, because he stole Grace from another man (he was allegedly having an affair with her while his wife Sally lay in her death bed).
Another thought if, by some strange twist of fortune, Mugabe stepped down, it would make one of the greatest headlines of the year: “Sex scandal makes forces and African giant to step down”, he said, would be a good one.
Another claimed that Confucius, the great philosopher, had foreseen this Bob-Grace difficulty, when he wrote something like; “Man at 86 years old marries woman at 45 years old! Is like buying book for others to read”. I think he made that one up, I couldn’t find it when I checked it out.
A colleague said that Grace had brought down Pfizer, the makers of the impotence drug Viagra. I was flummoxed. He explained that Viagra had given aging strongmen the possibility to return to the sex market, and marry young wives. That dramatically enhanced their image of virility, a necessary portrait of strength for an elderly despot clinging to power in a Third World country.
A cuckolded Mugabe, he opined, “looks vulnerable, and must surely be less threatening in Africa where big men lose too much pride when it is discovered some other men stole their wives”.
The gods of democracy must be crazy. It is the only way to understand the fact that the loins of First Lady Mugabe, should rattle a titan who survived the jails of the colonialists, has stood to the international community, and has pummelled his local enemies into acquiescent collaboration with him in government.
Rumors By: CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO