By Fungi Kwaramba and Gift Phiri
President Robert Mugabe’s two sons, Chatunga and Robert Junior, are back in Zimbabwe for good after sparking a diplomatic furore in neighbouring South Africa last week.
Both 25-year-old Robert Jnr and his younger sibling, Chatunga, 21, returned home with their father and mother from South Africa on Sunday after the first lady was granted diplomatic immunity from being prosecuted for allegedly assaulting a young model who was allegedly cohabiting with them at a Johannesburg hotel.
A senior government official told the Daily News this week that Mugabe summoned the two boys to his hotel room just after the 37th Ordinary Sadc Summit of Heads of State and Government in Pretoria on Saturday, and returned home with them in the early hours of Sunday.
“The president and Dr Amai came back with the boys. Vatori kumba izvozvi (they are home right now). He had earlier met them at his hotel room just after the summit. They then flew together with (Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick) Chinamasa and (Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe) Mumbengegwi and arrived aboard an Air Zimbabwe plane very early in the morning on Sunday,” the source at Munhumutapa Building — the citadel of government power — said, declining to be named.
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said there was no other alternative for the First Family but to bring the boys home.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said the situation had become untenable, especially after the alleged assault of a South African model, Gabriella Engels, by their mother, Grace.
“The situation had become a security risk on them being in South Africa, a society they would have found extremely difficult to live in,” said Masunungure.
“In this case, there is no any viable alternative but to return home because the boys had become a security threat even to themselves,” he told the Daily News.
Piers Pigou, senior consultant at the International Crisis Group, said it was critical that parents try and keep their misbehaving youngsters close to their bosom to keep them in check.
“One might ask given the violence and bad behaviour that has been associated with these youngsters regarding their expulsion from the luxury apartment complex last month and now their mother’s antics, whose security are we referring to? It sounds like an appropriate move as parents should try and keep their wayward youngsters closer to their bosom,” remarked Pigou.
A close relative of the Mugabe’s also confirmed to the Daily News that the two boys are back in town but refused to give details citing “security concerns.”
Across the Limpopo River, Robert Junior could also suffer criminal charges after he pushed a pregnant hotel employee at Capital 20 West in Sandton as he fled his mom’s fury, with the waitress suffering a miscarriage.
As first reported by the Daily News, Mugabe told his inner circle in a top government meeting last week that he was travelling to Pretoria to attend the Sadc heads of State summit, two days ahead of schedule, to try and secure his wife’s freedom as well as make arrangements to bring back to Zimbabwe his sons.
“He expressed deep concern over the behaviour of the boys. He told us that he was going there ahead of the Sadc summit schedule to attend to the incident involving the first lady as well as to arrange for the boys’ repatriation,” said a Cabinet minister who cannot be named said ahead of their arrival on Sunday.
“It is clear that he is worried about their safety given the high crime rate in that country.”
Chatunga, the younger of the two, who is 21 and openly boasts of living it up even while the citizens of Zimbabwe are groaning under his father’s 37-year rule, was once expelled from St George’s College in Harare.
He was then home-schooled from the age of 16 but failed his A-level exam.
Robert Jnr, meanwhile, was not only failing tests at school but he was also unable to progress to higher grade levels.
Despite this, Jnr managed to somehow study architecture in Dubai later in life.
He also reportedly dropped out of a military academy in China because he could not cope with the rigorous training.
In July, the two boys were kicked out from an apartment at the Regent MCC in West Road South in Morningside, an area where they had been relocated to.
Mugabe’s sons had previously relocated from an expensive pad in Dubai to South Africa after they allegedly became embroiled in fights and were accused of substance abuse.
At the Sadc summit, Mumbengegwi revealed that Mugabe pushed Sadc to take a strong stand against drug abuse.
“The heads of State and government also discussed the question of drug abuse and cybercrime and on this topic, his excellency, president Mugabe, spoke very strongly in support of regional action to counter this new menace, which is finding wings in our region,” he said in a documentary of the regional summit flighted on State TV on Tuesday night.
“So, the summit, on the recommendations of … the president, decided to direct the (Sadc) secretariat to come up with a comprehensive plan for combating drug abuse and cybercrime within the Sadc region for consideration by the heads of State and government at their next meeting.”
Mugabe, who was among the nine heads of State and government who attended the Sadc ordinary summit, reportedly expressed exasperation at rising drug abuse at the summit.
It is said that he nearly broke down as he made a passionate plea to his counterparts to rein in on the drug menace, perhaps driven by the behaviour of his “wayward” sons, who have taken to drinking and drug abuse.
Pressure continues to pile on the first family in South Africa where vocal civic society groups want the diplomatic immunity given to be withdrawn.
The powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) wants Grace to be declared a prohibited immigrant to be denied entry into that country and deported upon arrival.
Cosatu — which is in a decades-old partnership with the African National Congress and the communist party that freed South Africa from white minority rule — slammed the controversial decision to grant diplomatic immunity to Grace.
“…Grace … should be banned from ever coming into this country,” said Sizwe Pamla, Cosatu’s national spokesperson in a damning statement yesterday.
“Our government’s camouflaged surrender and cowardice is shameful. We are turning into a Banana republic very fast because of our government’s misdirected idealism.”
This comes as South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, called for a parliamentary inquiry into South Africa’s decision to let the Zimbabwean first lady leave. Daily News