PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s daughter, Bona, caused a stir when pictures of her sitting on her father’s side, during a government meeting in Japan surfaced yesterday.
Mugabe was flanked by Bona and Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, raising questions on why the president’s child was allowed to sit there.
Speculation was rife yesterday that Bona was being groomed for a position in the government, while others said she was Mugabe’s preferred successor, triggering waves of condemnation across social media.
Bona’s presence at the meeting is likely to intensify speculation Mugabe is trying to shore up his family’s hold on power, Times Live reported yesterday.
However, more questions arose, as to the absence of First Lady Grace Mugabe, with others speculating that Bona was present to give Mugabe a hand in the absence of her mother.
Grace reportedly had an operation late last year and there have been questions about the state of her health.
Sitting arrangements at a Zanu PF politburo meeting recently were in the spotlight after Grace sat next to Mugabe in a position usually reserved for vice-presidents, reinforcing arguments that Mugabe needed someone he could trust by his side.
Analysts suggest the sudden rise of Mugabe’s wife Grace in Zimbabwe’s deeply divided political arena may be part of a plan to ensure the First Family retains its hold on power, after the president left office.
Bona (24) was roped in on Mugabe’s trip to Singapore for a medical check-up and later to Japan for the United Nations Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, after Grace failed to make the trip.
Political commentator Takura Zhangazha said Mugabe should explain why his daughter sat at such a high-profile meeting.
“The appearance of the president’s daughter at a meeting that her father was conducting with the Japanese PM understandably raises eyebrows, not least because the First Lady has taken on a political role, but also because issues of succession have been in vogue,” he said.
“Bona Mugabe, however, does not hold any political office in the country whether by appointment or election. It would be in the best public interest if the president explained why he took his daughter to an official meeting.
“Hopefully, he just needed her company and nothing more.”
Academic Ibbo Mandaza said Bona’s presence was normal given the president’s age and his need for a close family member to accompany him.
“I would say there is nothing improper in that,” he said.
“Given the president’s advanced age, she needed to be there.
“In the circumstances Mugabe is in, that is advanced age and frailty, I am not surprised.”
Zanu PF sources said the First Family was now particular and concerned with the president’s health and movements especially after his embarrassing fall at the Harare International Airport early this year.
But opposition MDC-Renewal spokesperson Jacob Mafume described the move as “a serious breach of protocol” aimed at turning the country into a monarchy.
“It is a serious breach of protocol that we can have such a situation,” he said.
“We are of the view that as each day passes, Zanu PF is losing grip on the party and the government which is fast becoming a family affair and or an absolute monarchy.
“The way things are going the country is going to be part of Mugabe estate to be inherited by a surviving spouse or child.
“We need a radical approach to stem this process.”
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said it was disgusting and pathetic that Mugabe’s daughter could be part of his father’s delegation on a State-sponsored trip.
— TimesLive/Staff Reporter