When President Robert Mugabe announced last week that his wife was ill and had remained in Singapore after an operation, he might not have been telling the truth according to a whistleblowing Facebook page.
Zimbabweans for Prosperity which claims to have close links with “the intelligence services, key cabinet ministers and the military” has made sensational claims that First Lady Grace Mugabe refused to return to Zimbabwe in protest at a decision by the 91-year-old President to include Oppah Muchinguri’s daughter on his will.
In December last year an online site (Now Daily) quoted President Mugabe’s former bodyguard who claimed that Higher Education minister Oppah Muchinguri’s daughter, Tanya, was in fact Mugabe’s daughter.
“Grace Mugabe is breathing fire. She is in the Far East not because of an operation . Hell no. She refused to come back until Bob (Robert Mugabe) sorts out this issue with his ‘bitch’. There was war between Grace and Robert. The cause of the war is Oppah,” the website said.
The website said the furore had forced Muchinguri, who is higher education minister, to hurriedly announce last week that she was married to one Bishop Anthony Kashiri, in an attempt to pacify the raging Grace Mugabe.
The group said being married would not stop Mugabe from having her, as he had done when she was married to Tapiwa Rushesha, who has now fled Zimbabwe after dumping her.
“So now she (Muchinguri) has to pretend she is not interested in Robert. She has to go to another man but does it change anything?” Zimbabweans for Prosperity said.
During divorce proceedings in court, Rushesha gave adultery with Mugabe as the main reason for leaving Muchinguri. He told the court: “Mugabe often sent his bodyguards to pick up my wife for ‘meetings’ in the middle of the night.”
Zimbabweans for Prosperity heaped vitriol on Muchinguri for apparently ruining relations between the president and his wife.
“Why are you so desperate to force Matibili (Mugabe) to include your child on his will, which caused all this fight in the Far East? A fight between Grace and someone in a hospital bed,” Zimbabweans for Prosperity said.
The source of the story, a bodyguard identified by the pseudonym Musori, claimed in a sworn affidavit that “the apparent peace now prevailing between known rivals Muchinguri and Grace Mugabe was brokered by the ailing president to secure the future of ‘all his children’ if he died.”
“The affidavit traces Muchinguri’s progress from the time she was abducted and turned into a sex slave by the Zanla guerillas, rising to become personal assistant and ‘comfort woman’ to the guerilla commander General Josiah Magama Tongogara, who was later murdered in her presence,” Now Daily reported.
“In post-independent Zimbabwe, Oppah worked in the president’s office and had a very ‘warm’ relationship with Mugabe. It was during the time of this relationship that Tanya Rushesha was born,” Musori said.
“Mugabe knew that his wife, Sally, could not bear any children for him and he had been trying to have children to carry his name and legacy. It was during this time that Tanya, Oppah’s daughter was conceived.”
Musori said when Tanya was born nearly 25 years ago, Mugabe began to promote Muchinguri and eventually appointed her cabinet minister even though she was not educated.
“This was a way of rewarding Muchinguri for having born Tanya. It was after the rise of Grace Marufu Goreraza to the post of first lady that Muchinguri was sidelined from mainstream politics.
“Oppah and Grace have had a long-standing feud that emanated from the president’s office. It came as a surprise to many that Muchinguri was spearheading or engineering the rise of Grace Mugabe,” Musori said.
“This is very simple to explain, and to those of us who served as bodyguards during the period of the goings on understand that Gushungo (Mugabe) is a family man with very strong family beliefs, and would never let his own family and children suffer. To this end, Gushungo made peace between Oppah and Grace and told them to work together, for the sake and safety of themselves and the kids in a post-Gushungo era.”
Apparently, Muchinguri has buried the hatchet and has been using various political and media platforms to downplay the rift and discredit stories about their widely-reported fight over earrings in the 1990s.
Last year in January Muchinguri denied long standing rumours that she dated dendera music icon Simon Chimbetu or that she was once involved in a cat fight with the First Lady Grace Mugabe, over earrings.
Muchinguri stunned participants at a meeting organised by the Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu) when she said “People say I dated Chimbetu, but where would I have seen him, he was not on my level?”
She also sought to clear another popular rumour telling guests “Some said Muchinguri fought with the first lady over earrings. Such stories are not true.”
The first rumour about Chimbetu was fuelled by the late musician’s song “Oppah” in which he sang “beyond those mountains, Manica Valley, there is a mushroomed African Village, there is Oppah an African girl, she is like an angel sent for me.”
It has also been claimed that Muchinguri had an affair with President Mugabe that culminated in an altercation with the First Lady at the Harare International Airport.
Grace Mugabe allegedly confronted Muchinguri over earrings bought for her by the President. The First Lady is then said to have ordered her off the plane.
According to Muchinguri the situation was not helped when she divorced her first husband, Tapiwa Rushesha.
During the acrimonious divorce and child custody proceedings, Rushesha told the courts that he had been upset that Mugabe often sent his bodyguards to pick up his wife for “meetings” in the middle of the night.
“We need to change our attitudes. Why do you believe in such stories? I have developed thick skin and you also need to develop it if you are to survive in politics,” Muchinguri said last year.
But the report in Now Daily paints a different picture.
“Oppah Muchinguri has always loved Gushungo and that is not a secret; everyone in the system knows that. Tanya has always been well looked after. At the age of 21 she had her own flight academy (AirBonfare). How many 21 year-old females ever own flight academies?” Mushori said, adding that she also owns a nursing home and a housing project in Chinhoyi.
Now Daily also established that Tanya, who bears a striking resemblance to Mugabe, is a loan shark who owns microfince firm Women Starting Over, established with funds diverted from the state when her mother was women’s minister.
“Tanya Rushesha is really Robert Mugabe’s daughter and that is the reason why Oppah felt cheated after Mugabe married Grace ahead of her; that is the reason why many of us find it odd that Oppah and Grace have joined hands against the rise of Joice Mujuru,” Musori said.
Muchinguri is now reported to have married pastor Anthony Kashiri.
Questions are also raging over why Mugabe appointed Muchinguri to head all state universities and colleges when she dropped out of school at the age of 9, before reaching fifth grade, when she was abducted Boko Haram-style by Zanla guerillas in Manicaland in the 1970s.
Although Muchinguri has now been awarded a ‘freebie’ master’s degree in international relations by Mugabe and did secretarial studies in the USA, she never completed a year of formal study.
Many who have had close contact with her say she is not articulate but makes up for her shortcomings by being a ferocious gossiper, rumour-monger and seductress, skills that have made her the new kingmaker in Zanu PF.
Recently, she helped fell former vice president Joice Mujuru through a concoction of lies and deft (some say daft) manouevering. Muchinguri claimed, quite incredibly, that Mujuru wanted to assassinate Mugabe with the help of Didymus Mutasa, Nicholas Goche and Ray Kaukonde.
The charges were so staggering, so foolish and so blatantly false that Mujuru did not take them seriously at first. But, manipulating the state media to repeat the lies daily, the allegations were eventually taken seriously by Zanu PF militias who barred Mujuru from crucial party meetings, resulting in her expulsion.
Eventually, Muchinguri’s wishes were not met, either. She destroyed Mujuru and gave the powerful women’s league top job to Grace Mugabe in the hope that she would be appointed vice president. That did not happen. She was given the lowly secretary for transport post in the politburo and the higher education ministry where her shortcomings are likely to soon become all too apparent. Now Daily/Staff Reporter