Last week, ZimSeen broke an exclusive story of a Harare man claiming to be former president Robert Mugabe’s alleged wartime son. He produced DNA tests, affidavits, name change and other important documents to buttress his story.
In the first part of the story, it was noted that Tonderai Gabriel Mugabe formerly Maeka was spotted by the late national liberation war heroine Bridget Mugabe; sister to former president Robert Mugabe at Zanu PF headquarters in 1997.
Mugabe told ZimSeen that he could not immediately believe what he had heard even though the confidence in Tete Bridget’s voice could not be questioned.
An avalanche of emotions gripped him as he tried to wrap his head in pieces of this intricate puzzle.
The emotional rollercoaster took him to his upbringing where he sold scrap metal to pay tuition fees, and why no one close to him gathered the courage to inform him he was probably the son of one of the most powerful men in the world.
Thoughts that the man presiding over the country’s affairs, a polarising figure in local and global politicking might be his father were too much to fathom.
“I did not immediately tell my grandfather about this when I got home. I was still in shock and did not easily establish a way of putting this across to him. It now dawned on me why my mother rested without uttering a word about who my father was,” said Mugabe.
Asked why he delayed telling his grandson about his father, Mugabe’s grandfather Thomas Maeka said it was not an easy thing to do.
“He was still young and we were not sure how he was going to take it. I did not want him to do anything silly since he was still immature to handle such information,” he said.
Mugabe added that he secretly kept this information to himself for a very long time because of family issues that he could not disclose.
He only shared the information with his grandfather in 2014, a period when Tete Bridget’s health deteriorated.
“I constantly visited Tete Bridget at Parirenyatwa Hospital in the company of one of her sons called Raphael. I was one of the close relatives allowed to see her.
“As her condition deteriorated, I decided to share the secret with my maternal family and requested that one of them accompany me to the hospital. I did this so that they know the extent to which I had gone with the issue. The fact that whoever was going to accompany me will be denied entry while I got access was going to be evidence enough to them,” he said.
Mugabe went to the hospital with his uncle Benson Maeka, brother to his late mother.
ZimSeen reached out to Maeka for comment.Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
“Indeed, I accompanied my nephew to visit Tete Bridget when she was admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital around 2014, if my memory serves me right,” he said.
Before Tete Bridget’s passing, Mugabe was secretive about interactions with his ‘aunt’ and her children.
It is in one such interaction that Tete Bridget reportedly told him that she had discussed the issue of him meeting the former president and he had bought the idea.
“She arranged a private meeting around August 2007. It was private because of some reasons that I cannot immediately disclose to you,” said Mugabe.
“We met at around 5 pm. I was a ball of fear and anxiety because I was not sure how he was going to take the issue. I thought he was going to interrogate me, asking about my background and upbringing. However, upon arrival, Tete Bridget said to the former president: I have brought your boy as promised, to which the president said: “Tete vako vanondinyepera kuti unoziva zvakawandisa. Vakanditi ndichanzwirira pandichakuona saka taura zviri mumusoro wako tinzwe.” (Your aunt lies that you know a lot of things. She added that I would marvel when you speak. This is your chance, speak to me).”
Tete Bridget referred to Mugabe using the moniker kaboko, which she said meant “small nuts that are capable of making delicious peanut butter”.
She called him this because she wondered how at such an age, he was capable of articulating deep political matters.
Mugabe said he took the opportunity to show that he is a voracious reader with a bias towards political discourse just like his ‘father’.
He said the former leader did not ask him anything about his mother, supposedly because he had gathered information from Tete Bridget.
“I jumped straight to politics and quoted a book written by British writer, Professor Donald Dore called Spirituality and Justice. In the book, Dore said: “Colonialism is gone but it is replaced by a neo-colonial system whose control over poor countries is no longer exercised by overt military and political power but mainly in economic ways. This economic control can create even greater hardships than the old-style colonial rule because it affects every sphere of life.”
Mugabe said a vibrant political discussion ensued as he submitted to the then-president that the country ought to heal the wounds of the struggle by caring for the families of fallen heroes who perished before and after the struggle as well as uplifting the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
After the discussion, the ex-president Mugabe reportedly told Tonderai Gabriel that he could not immediately have him under his wings or give him a powerful position in the party or government but had to be integrated slowly.
This is why Mugabe’s existence was kept a secret for a long time.
He said he could not immediately run around town telling people who he was and what was happening in respect of former president Mugabe and the position he had in the country.
“So, he suggested that I be given a platform on ZTV to articulate political issues on various programmes. Resultantly, between 2009 and 2013, I was a guest on a number of programs on ZTV including Good Morning Zimbabwe, but people did not know who I was.”
Unfortunately, Tete Bridget suffered a stroke in 2010 after she collapsed at the burial of her sister Sabina at the National Heroes Acre and was admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital.Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
She was in a coma for about four years, a development that Mugabe said affected the frequency of his appearances on public platforms as he was constantly visiting her in the hospital.
Following Tete Bridget’s passing in 2014, some close relatives who had been asked to facilitate Mugabe’s issue were reluctant to do so.
Mugabe felt that he was being deliberately marginalised and outmuscled from keeping close contact with the former president so he decided to visit State House to seek an audience with his ‘father.’
It was a bold move that he felt had to be done lest he would spend the rest of his life as a secret.
He was reportedly stopped at the State House’s entrance by central intelligence officers whom he told who he was.
Phone calls were allegedly made to the former principal director of State residences, Innocent Dzapasi Tizora.
The communications took close to an hour as Mugabe waited apprehensively.
What happened thereafter will be covered in the last part of this three-part series in next week’s edition. ZimSeen