23 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Where Is Grace After Robert Mugabe's Exit in Harare?

Photo: The Herald
Former president Robert Mugabe and former first lady Grace Mugabe (file photo).

In Harare, on the eve of the swearing in of Zimbabwe's next leader Emmerson Mnangagwa, focus is turning to the fate of former first lady Grace Mugabe.

She has not been seen in public since the 'coup' on November 14.

HOUSE ARREST

Mr Mnangagwa will be sworn in on Friday as Zimbabwe's second executive president since independence in 1980.

President Robert Mugabe resigned on Tuesday, a week after he was put under house arrest by the military.

Between the surprise military action and his resignation, the 93-year-old former strongman was photographed meeting his captors during the tense negotiations for his exit and his young wife was conspicuous by her absence. - )

On November 19, he appeared on national television looking subdued, but delivered a speech where he defied calls to stand down.

Mr Mugabe has not been seen in public since then, but a picture showing him at home with his wife has since gone viral.

The picture shows the ex-president and the 52-year-old Grace seated on a sofa at their Harare mansion.

MOYO

Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, Central Intelligence Organisation acting director Aaron Nhepera and Catholic priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, a long-time confidante of Zimbabwe's former leader are also in the picture.

The trio negotiated on behalf of Mr Mugabe as the military tightened the screws on their commander-in-chief.

However, two ministers who were believed to be hiding at the then first family's mansion are not in the picture, prompting human rights groups to raise alarm about the fate of the long-time ruler's loyalists, reportedly arrested by the military.

Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and Mr Saviour Kasukuwere reportedly escaped from their Harare homes under a hail of bullets and have not been seen in public since then.

"Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has noted with apprehension some disconcerting reports that during Operation Restore Legacy there may be some arrests and detention of people following the announcement made by Major General Sibusiso Moyo on 15 November 2017," ZLHR said in a statement on Thursday.

CHOMBO

"In the event that any such arrests have indeed been made, ZLHR reminds the Zimbabwe Defence Forces of their obligation to ensure full compliance with the constitutional guarantees protecting human rights and the rule of law."

From the onset, the army has denied that it staged a coup, saying it was only targeting criminals around Mr Mugabe.

Only the arrest of Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo has been made public, but he was yet to be taken to court, a week after his detention.

Human Rights Watch said the military should publicly acknowledge the identities and location of everyone arrested and detained during the army takeover.

"The military should clear the air about any arrests across Zimbabwe and hand over any criminals suspects to the appropriate civilian authorities according to the law," said Mr Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa director at HRW.

GUARANTEES

"Failing to disclose the whereabouts of those detained is an enforced disappearance that places detainees at great risk."

Soldiers targeted members of a ruling Zanu-PF faction who opposed Mr Mnangagwa's ambitions to become president during the military intervention.

The rival faction loyal to the former first lady wanted her to be appointed vice-president at Zanu-PF's congress scheduled for next month.

Meanwhile, the guarantees made to Mr Mugabe and his family about their security and immunity from prosecution have not been made public.

The former president and his wife are considered among the richest people in Zimbabwe, with most of the wealth having been seized from white farmers at the height of a controversial land reform programme.

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