They say hell hath no fury as a woman scorned, but we will now see what happens when a tin-pot dictator is betrayed by one of his closest friends and confidantes…
“When President Robert Mugabe’s younger sister, Sabina, died in Harare after a short illness, pictures showed the 86-year-old looking devastated at her funeral.
But it may well have been more than the death of his beloved sister that shattered Mugabe and sent his health into what is reported to be further decline.
According to one of Mugabe’s most trusted bodyguards who was present at the time, Sabina Mugabe, 75, warned her brother before she died that he was being betrayed by two of the most important people in his personal and political life: his wife and his personal banker, a pivotal member of his regime.
Sabina told the president that Grace and Gideon Gono, the powerful head of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and Mugabe’s confidant, were secret lovers.
Grace, 41 years Mugabe’s junior, has taken lovers before. One lover, Peter Pamire, died in a mysterious car accident. James Makamba, one of Zimbabwe’s richest businessmen and a top-ranking ZANU PF official, enjoyed her favours but their affair ended in tears, too, when a furious and sexually jealous Mugabe ran him out of town in fear of his life.
But never before has Grace been romantically involved with a politician in Mugabe’s inner circle. And never before has a man so close to the president risked allowing it to happen.
The dangers from discovery are high. Zimbabwe state intelligence officials made it known that Mugabe’s detection of the affair had already led to the murder of the bodyguard present at Sabina’s bedside and more trouble would almost certainly follow.”
My initial reaction is, will Gono remain governor of the Reserve Bank? I don’t think so. Assuming that the affair is true, Gono has done to his carer, what he has done to Grace.
“Once he hears something like that, I think someone will go and meet God,” said one intelligence official.
A pillar of the regime who Mugabe personally appointed in 2003 to head the central bank, Gono was a person he absolutely trusted; furthermore, he was a family friend. The two have known each other since 1995 when Mugabe appointed Gono, then chief executive of a major Harare commercial bank, to be his personal banker.
“Mugabe trusted Gono. He even thought our boss was taking care of the first lady keeping a protective eye on her so that she could not again be adulterous,” said one senior official in Gono’s office who became aware of their secret affair, and who spoke out about it for the first time last month, on condition of anonymity.
Another in Gono’s entourage said Gono and Grace, who are business partners in several enterprises in Zimbabwe and South Africa, had been planning a life together after Mugabe’s death.”
This is not what Mugabe wanted. He and his ZANU PF kingdom need to show the world that he and they are united – so a senior figure having an affair with Mugabe’s wife is not what the doctor ordered.
I do rather like the suggestion by someone close to the key players, that someone “is going to meet God”.
“Mugabe’s marriage to Grace is itself founded on an adulterous relationship which shocked many Zimbabweans at the time. Grace was working as a junior secretary in the typing pool in Mugabe’s office and married to an air force officer when the two began having an affair. They had two children while Mugabe’s first wife, Sally – who was universally popular – battled a terminal kidney disease. After her death in 1996, Mugabe wed Grace, who is widely loathed and notorious for her lavish shopping sprees.
The Gono source said Grace and Gono first became romantically involved in 2005 and had seen each other regularly since. When they could not find an excuse to meet in South Africa or further abroad, they met at Gushungu Dairy Estate, Grace’s 1000ha farm about an hour from Harare.
They met twice, sometimes three times, a month.
They also met at the Harare home of a woman friend and business associate of Grace who is a ZANU PF stalwart. They exchanged e-mails, which one official privy to them described as “explicit”.”
The next move is Mugabe’s – and like most of his decisions, could prove disastrous for Gono, Grace and ZANU PF…
Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man