May 29, 2024

Robert Mugabe’s son charged in Zimbabwe for damaging cars at party

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Son of late authoritarian ruler arrested over damage worth £10,000

Robert Mugabe Jr, pictured with his father in 2017, has been in the news for multiple reports of partying and lavish spending

The eldest son of Robert Mugabe, the late authoritarian ruler of Zimbabwe, has been arrested for allegedly causing damage worth $12,000 (£10,000) to cars and other property at a party in an upmarket neighbourhood of Harare over the weekend.

Robert Mugabe Jr, 31, spent a night in a local police station and then briefly appeared at a court in Harare, the capital, on Monday.

Mugabe was not held after the hearing but his lawyer, Ashiel Mugiya, said h still faced charges and the two parties were negotiating an out-of-court settlement. The damaged property is believed to belong to a friend.

“No, charges were not withdrawn. The state decided to give parties the opportunity to negotiate,” Mugiya said.

Mugabe has been the subject of multiple news reports of partying and lavish spending. In one incident, he watched as his younger brother poured a £200 bottle of champagne over a luxury watch to prove it was waterproof.

In 2017, his mother, Grace, his father’s second wife, was accused of attacking a 20-year-old South African model who she found with her son after a night out at a hotel in Johannesburg’s upmarket Sandton district.

Last year, Mugabe Jr described himself as a basketball player, “architect, gym fanatic”. “I hustle and I enjoy socialising with people. I keep it simple,” he told an interviewer.

He also hit the headlines when he appeared to endorse Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man who headed the military takeover that led to his father’s fall from power in 2017 and who is now the leader of Zimbabwe. Before his death in 2019, Mugabe Sr described Mnangagwa, his former deputy, as among his “tormentors”.

The apparent reconciliation with Mugabe Jr was a boost to Mnangagwa, who has sought to exploit his predecessor’s early history as a liberation struggle leader. The Mugabe family have resisted the current president’s efforts, leading to a series of arguments over the legacy of the late authoritarian ruler and the location of his tomb. Otherwise, Grace Mugabe has kept a low profile.

Mugabe Sr and his wife received a “golden handshake” worth many millions of dollars as part of a deal negotiated before the resignation of the ageing autocrat in 2017. The agreement also included immunity from prosecution and a guarantee that no action would be taken against his family’s extensive business interests.

According to some estimates, Mugabe amassed about £1bn worth of assets during his time in power, much of it invested outside Zimbabwe. A 2001 US diplomatic cable, later released by the whistleblowing organisation WikiLeaks, quoted this figure, and said that while reliable information was difficult to find, there were rumours that his assets “include everything from secret accounts in Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the Bahamas to castles in Scotland.”

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