EIGHTY-nine year old Robert Mugabe, who fathered two children with his secretary while his first wife was critically ill, has slammed senior politicians in Zimbabwe who have mistresses – and said the electorate won’t trust them.
The unprecedented attack appeared to be aimed at ministers within his own Zanu-PF party as much as at his rival, prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader whose string of affairs before his traditional-style wedding last year has damaged his reputation – and possibly his chances of winning this year’s presidential polls.
Said the Zimbabwean leader: “All our men think they have a right to be morally loose. When married you are supposed to have one wife. When you cheat, people will not trust you, especially when the position you hold is an economic one,” he added.
The comments, delivered at a local councillors’ conference in the eastern city of Mutare last week, will likely touch a raw nerve in several top Zanu-PF officials who were recently – and very acrimoniously – divorced.
But if Mr Mugabe was hoping to appeal to women voters fed up of Zimbabwe’s infamous “small house syndrome” – where a man financially maintains his mistress often to the detriment of his wife – he was also clearly hoping the Zimbabwean electorate had a short memory: he started an affair with a young secretary while his Ghanaian wife Sally lay dying of kidney disease.
Grace Marufu, who is 41 years Mr Mugabe’s junior, gave birth to his daughter Bona while Sally was still alive: the couple’s first son, Robert Junior, was born soon after she died.
Mr Mugabe went on to marry Grace in a lavish Roman Catholic ceremony in 1996.