Zimbabwean media is reporting the details of the settlement negotiated by Robert Mugabe and the generals who ousted him as president. The deal includes full immunity from prosecution for Mugabe, $10 million, half of which will be paid immediately, the other half to be paid in installments over several years, full salary, medical costs covered by the state, body guards and other security, and full protection of his private property. After he dies, his widow, Grace, will receive half of his salary as long as she lives. According to Zimbabwean media, the deal was brokered by Roman Catholic priest Fidelis Mukonori and banker Gideon Gono. Many details remain unknown, such as what will happen to Mugabe’s children, who are notorious for their extravagance.
Apparently, the sweet deal does not apply to Mugabe’s former henchmen. The new Mnangagwa regime has arrested Mugabe’s finance minister, Ignatius Chombo, and two leaders of the ZANU-PF youth league. Other Mugabe cabinet members have scattered and cannot be accounted for. Patrick Zhuwao, the former minister of public service and a Mugabe nephew, has fled the country. The new regime justified its coup by saying it was moving against the “criminals” around Mugabe, not the president himself. Hence, it is likely that a few high profile Mugabe collaborators such as Chombo will be brought to trial. The lavish personal settlement for Mugabe supports the military narrative that it moved not against Mugabe but only the “criminals” around him.
Over the past year, the Zimbabwean economy has collapsed yet again. Estimates are that more than 90 percent of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line. There are pockets of hunger. Estimates of Mugabe’s personal wealth—now protected—exceed $1 billion. Yet, there is no visible outrage over the size of his settlement, a reflection of his continued mystique as the senior leader of Africa’s liberation from colonialism.