A private conversation of President Robert Mugabe with African Union (AU) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat which presumably took place on his 94th birthday on February 21st and leaked to the media has received little media attention.  Despite the significance of the content, it is amazing how it has not made any news headlines.

The conversation secretly recorded at a private birthday party at The Mugabe Family’s Blue Room residence in Harare’s affluent Borrowdale suburb provided an insight on the mental state of the continent’s elderly statesman. It also showed how President Mugabe, despite his advanced age, is up-to-date on the current state of affairs in a country he once governed for almost 4 decades.

President Robert Mugabe, at State House shakes hands with coup-plotter ZDF General Constantino Chiwenga before delivering his final speech to the nation and later forced to resign on Sunday November 19, 2017. Credit: AP

Mugabe, otherwise affectionately known as Gushungo, was unconstitutionally deposed from power on November 15, 2017 by the co-coup plotters and usurpers – the duo, Emmerson Mnangagwa and his accomplice military general turned Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

The AU Chair who was in the country on a fact-finding mission on the political and security situation in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the military coup, had requested an audience with Africa’s elderly statesman who is still respected in the continent.

President Robert Mugabe (R) and his protégé turned usurper, then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L).

As America does, so does the rest of the world

Taking a leaf from the current chaotic American political system of leaks in the White House, several delegates and officials who attended the private meeting recorded and later leaked the private conversation to the media.

Mahamat, who first met with the usurper Mnangagwa and some members of his illegitimate cabinet including Military General turned Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Sibusiso Moyo – insisted on seeing President Mugabe.

Also in attendance was former First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe; AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Minata Samate Cessouma; AU delegation’s interpreter; Zimbabwe’s former Ambassador to Namibia Chipo Zindoga; Minister Misheck Sibanda as well as the very corrupt former Mines Minister, Obert Mpofu.

Although Mahamat did not use the words “coup” or “transition” throughout the meeting, he expressed his joy of meeting with President Mugabe, adding that the continental body still values and needs his insight as well as advice on important issues.  He also said that the African Union sees him as an elderly statesman whose legacy of championing pan-Africanism still resonates throughout the continent.

Although the AU’s delegation interpreter translated from French to English and vice-versa,  Mahamat who spoke in French is said to have listened to President Mugabe’s conversation in English.

The meeting which was recorded by several officials began with exchanges of pleasantries between Mugabe and the AU officials before the commencement of serious business.

In the leaked conversation, President Mugabe came out guns blazing against his former protégé turned usurper, saying his illegitimate successor’s rule is “unconstitutional”.

Pointing out that the country was effectively under military rule, Mugabe said Mnangagwa’s government was “illegal” hence the need to urgently restore democratic order.  He then called on the AU to “restore normalcy and democracy in Zimbabwe”.

Mugabe then went further to say he was willing to “call a spade a spade” as he was not afraid of anyone to help bring Zimbabwe back to a constitutional and legal path.

Imprisoned,  Harassed, Benefits Withheld

President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe on his 94th Birthday at their Blue Roof Family Residence in Harare. Credit: Twitter

The deposed President also told Mahamat that his security and wellbeing were no longer guaranteed by Mnangagwa and his military dictatorship, adding how they have continued to deny him his constitutional benefit and constantly harass his wife Grace Mugabe as a form of intimidation tactic.

“For instance, they told you I was safe, but how can I be in this environment? My wife is crying daily. They are persecuting her; that is obviously directed at me. What am I without my wife and family? We are not safe,” Mugabe said.

“We have constitutional benefits, for example, but these are being denied.”

Although Mnangagwa and his military dictatorship are using Mugabe’s legacy for support retention and pretending to respect and care for him, they are doing everything in their power to detain the elderly statesman and keep him hostage in his own home.  In addition to isolation, the public is denied access to him and no foreign or local dignitaries are allowed access to him.

In an almost dejected manner of a powerless, abused elderly senior, President Mugabe is heard appealing to Mahamat saying, “Anyway, just give us our benefits!”

On The Situation In Zimbabwe And the Military

President is later recorded addressing the sensitive political and security issues in the country, particularly on the military and evolution of an integrated military in the post-conflict, independent Zimbabwe.

“To start with, the political and security situation in Zimbabwe has radically changed since November 15 last year; certainly, not for the better but for worse.”

“As Zimbabwe, when I was still Prime Minister and later President, we were assisted by the OAU (now AU) to integrate our different military forces coming out of the Liberation War and we managed to build an integrated military structure with technical assistance from China, Russia, Cuba and Romania. Also in general terms, we got assistance from different countries in Africa to build a professional national army.”

“At home, I worked closely with the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo to build a professional army for our newly-independent and democratic state. We had gone to war to fight to defeat and reject colonialism.

On Separate Roles of Military And Government

“In the process, we also rejected military rule and this has always been important and consistent with our liberation struggle principle that we will not allow the gun to lead politics,” adding, “Our philosophy is politics leads the gun.”

Engaging on a historical lecture on the evolution of democracy in Africa and the fundamental role Zimbabwe played in bringing about change, President Mugabe then said the following:

“Having built our new system, with a professional army, we then assisted other African countries which were under military rule to ensure that they became ruled by democratically elected leaders. We understood that it was the only way we could unite and develop Africa.

“This is why I’m happy that there is going to be an AU meeting in Kigali next month to discuss these issues. It’s tragic and sad that in Zimbabwe since November 15, government and state institutions have been taken over by the military which is now part of the current unconstitutional administration,” he said in condemnation of the obvious departure from the set rules governing the role of the military in the state.

“Pressured To Resign”

President Robert Mugabe (C) being detained by the military under General Chiwenga (R) with armed military henchmen surrounding his compound.

“I was pressured by the army to resign; I did so in order to avoid conflict and bloodshed in my country. I was worried because it had been brought to my attention that people had been intimidated, illegally seized, attacked, homes had been raided at gunpoint and destroyed, and weapons confiscated from other state security agencies,” Mugabe said.

On The Army And Mnangagwa

Coup-plotters and usurpers General Constantino Chiwenga (L) and Emmerson Mnangagwa deposed President Robert Mugabe in November 2017. Credit: AP

Obvious that he was blindsided, Mugabe then went on to highlight the unconstitutionality of deploying the military on the streets.

“The army had been unconstitutionally deployed without permission of the Commander-in-Chief and soldiers continue to be used in this operation. So, from a Constitutional point of view, he (Mnangagwa) is there unconstitutionally.

“Mnangagwa is in power illegally, yet some of his officials dare call me a dictator. What dictator?” asked President Mugabe.

On Being Called “A Dictator”

“Maybe a dictator for dictating that we must take over our land and give it to the people; maybe a dictator for demanding that our people must be empowered. If that’s why they call me a dictator, I have no problem with that.

“The one sitting next to you (Mpofu) used to be my minister, but now I hear he had the temerity to call me a dictator.” Turning to Mpofu, Mugabe then said: “Am I a dictator, sir?”

“No, I didn’t say that,” Mpofu replied. “It was the media which lied that I called you a dictator.”

Mugabe then continued: “Anyway that’s the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe.”

On The Upcoming General Elections

Speaking on the upcoming general elections, President Mugabe said they upcoming general elections would not be free and fair as they would be run by the military.“Now you want to know whether elections will be free and fair. Of course, I don’t think so. How can they be free and fair when the military is running everything?”

“For instance, they told you, I was safe, but how can I be in this environment? My wife is crying daily. They are persecuting her; that is obviously directed at me. What am I without my wife and family? We are not safe,” Mugabe said. “We have constitutional benefits, for example, but these are being denied.”
Although the Mnangagwa and his military dictatorship are using Mugabe’s legacy for support retention and pretending to respect and care for him, the man had done everything in his power to keep the elderly statement hostage.  He is kept isolated with the public denied access to him or any audience with hm.

Addressing the 30th African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January, Mnangagwa pledged to preserve Mugabe’s legacy. He also assured African leaders that he was safe and well.

“It’s not like I am crying for those benefits. I joined the struggle to fight to free my people, not to personally benefit anything, but why deny me benefits that I am constitutionally entitled to?” Mugabe asked.

Pleading with Mahamat, he continued: “You need to assist us to bring this country to normalcy and democracy. There is need for people’s rights to be restored and normal life to continue. Now there is no freedom of expression. If you disagree with them, then you must die.

“We need the spirit of Kenneth Kaunda in this country; ‘One Zambia, One Nation’. This country is now deeply divided along regional and tribal lines; that is wrong. We want our own ‘One Zimbabwe, One nation’. Harassing and intimidating people must stop; witch-hunting against people must stop.”

On Harassment, Intimidation And Targeted Arrests

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s military dictatorship is using purges, threats and violence against opponents and dissenters.

University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor Levy Nyagura was last week arrested for alleged abuse of office after being accused of facilitating the awarding of a fake PhD degree to Grace. Pointing to that arrest, he voiced his concern.

“Why are they harassing people? Some of them are overzealous,” in reference to Mnangwagwa and his military henchmen.

“How do you arrest a whole University Vice-Chancellor over lies about a PhD? Some of these people are just idiots; they are ignoramuses.”

Mugabe said before doing her PhD, Grace studied Chinese and got a degree.

A former Educator, President Mugabe has always prided himself of helping his young wife with studies over the years, sometimes making light of of the effort in tutoring her while pointing out that she wasn’t that gifted academically as himself.

“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “She then continued with her studies and ended up doing a PhD. I used to see her here working hard day and night. I would assist her here and there, so how can someone wake up and claim she didn’t work for it? This is harassment,” Mugabe said.

On The Death of Democracy In Zimbabwe

What happened in Zimbabwe was a military coup. Saying that is now a treasonous crime . Credit: EPA

Mugabe went back to the political situation which he said had badly deteriorated.

“I’m going to tell the truth; there is no more democracy anymore in Zimbabwe. How can it be there when the military is ruling? I’m saying this as Robert Mugabe and, of course, I am not afraid of anyone. I was imprisoned for 11 years by the Rhodesians so there is nothing to fear,” Mugabe said.

Ending the conversation, he turned to Mahamat and said, “Please don’t appease them. Be honest and tell them the truth, guide them forward. We want you to assist to restore normalcy and democracy in the country and stop this thing of ruling through guns.”



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