Mugabe's world crumbling

 Mugabe's world crumbling
Published: 12 June 2019 (524 Views)
THE world seems to be crumbling around former president Robert Mugabe, pictured, and his immediate family - if recent events are anything to go by.

During his 37-year-long reign, Mugabe, who was forced to relinquish his post in November 2017 following an army intervention, became one of the few wealthy citizens in Zimbabwe with his wife, Grace, being the face of the Mugabes' "flourishing" business empire.

With the power gone, all hell has broken loose for the fallen despot, aged 95, and his family.

The Mugabes are not only spending a fortune in defending themselves in the courts of law against litigants who are gunning for their assets; they are also struggling to keep their companies afloat in the face of a festering economic tsunami, which they aided and abetted while still enjoying the trappings of power.

Their flagship enterprise, Alpha Omega Dairy, which used to scoop dubious accolades during exhibitions at the height of Mugabe's power, is operating well below capacity. It recently auctioned several of its properties including vehicles and farm equipment.

Mugabe, his wife and their companies have also been in and out of courts.

Only recently, Grace was ordered to pay $278 304 to Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners for representing her in a botched $1,4 million diamond ring deal.

The law firm is claiming in court that after it represented the former first lady for two years, Grace did not pay the legal fees.
Their legal woes started soon after the soft coup in November 2017, which saw several of their allies, including their nephew Patrick Zhuwao, going into self-imposed exile.

In January last year, an order was handed down, directing Mugabe to vacate Mazowe Smithfield Farm and give way to small-scale miners, who claimed ownership of the same property.
Mugabe through his company Gushungo Holdings, also dragged the miners and the officer-in-charge Zimbabwe Republic Police Support Unit to court in March of the same year, demanding to be allowed back to the farm.

As if this was not enough, Mugabe's company was also dragged to the High Court in May 2018 for failing to pay over $174 000 for potato seed acquired on credit from Seed Potato Co-op in 2015.
Mugabe's company turned the tables against the potato producing company, accusing the firm of breaching a verbal contract entered between the two parties.

During the same month, Alpha Omega Dairy was also in court facing eviction from its offices after it allegedly failed to pay $29 000 for rentals.

As the litigations kept coming, Mugabe and his wife were again back in court in October last year, defending an application by three Mazowe farmers who were evicted from Teviotdale Farm in 2009 to pave way for the ex-first family's company Gushungo Holdings.

Grace is also facing the full wrath of the law in South Africa for attacking one of her sons' alleged girlfriend, Gabriella Engels, in 2017 using an electrical extension cord at an upmarket hotel in the business district of Sandton.

South African police last December issued an arrest warrant against the former first lady for the offence.
Grace's son, Chatunga Bellarmine is not having it easy either.
In June last year, Chatunga's property was set to be auctioned over a $12 000 debt after he allegedly failed to pay rentals for his butchery business in Chitungwiza.

Rashweat Mukundu, an analyst, said the Mugabe family is finding itself in this invidious situation because most political leaders ride on the political gravy train and cannot survive by any other means outside political patronage.

"Essentially they live off the State," he said. "And many of their businesses are being sustained by their connections to State corruption and nepotism".

Mukundu suspects that there could also be a degree of political persecution as those in power go after their erstwhile colleagues.
"And this is the clearest indication that corruption only matters when you are on the wrong side of the political fence. This tells us that anti-corruption is politicised and as a political weapon to fight and subdue political rivals," he said.

Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst, said when in office leaders are protected and granted illegal immunity from prosecutions while they plunder national resources and abuse offices.
Once they fall out of favour with their colleagues and are overthrown, he said all their excesses and abuse of power follows.

"It's not persecutions as such, but selective anti-corruption drive that goes for those who fall out of favour with current rulers and leave out those still cosy with current rulers. It's not an only Zimbabwe phenomenon, but common in Africa- look at (Jacob) Zuma in South Africa, Al Bashir in Sudan. Examples abound," said Saungweme.

According to Section 98 of the country's Constitution, a sitting president is immune to prosecution in his personal capacity.

"While in office, the president is not liable to civil or criminal proceedings in any court for things done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity. Civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a former president for things done and omitted to be done before he or she became president or while he or she was president. The running of prescription in relation to any debt or liability of the president arising before or during his or her term of office is suspended while he or she remains in office," the Constitution states.

Admire Mare, another analyst, said Mugabe's troubles can be viewed as some kind of persecution depending on the gaze one wants to take.

He however, acknowledged that it's difficult to prosecute a sitting president because of total control they enjoy over the levers of justice.

"The only time for these people to face justice is after their fall from grace. We saw it with (Fredrick) Chiluba in Zambia, Zuma in South Africa and recently with Al Bashir in Sudan. Luckily the hands of justice are not too short nor does the central processing unit of justice have limited internal memory," said Mare.

- Daily News

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