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Oliver Meth

Since the coup was executed against the founding father of Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe in November 2017 and his eventual death in 2019, his family has been living under the radar. They have only made an appearance for court challenges against the Zimbabwe government’s push to exhume their the late statesman’s body for reburial at the National Heroes Acre.

His son, Robert Mugabe Jnr, also fondly known as Tino in his Zimbabwe basketball national team days, has started to open up and, probably, chart his path.

In a podcast with Zimbabwean media personality Miss V Candy, Tino said, “I am an architect, gym fanatic, I hustle and I enjoy socialising with people. I keep it simple.”

Below is the podcast recording:

Tino never got to enjoy life like other first children of African strongmen, he is now determined to pave a path of his own, whilst honouring his father’s legacy. During the interview, he speaks about life, growing up under Mugabe’s staunch Roman Catholic beliefs and that his father always moved around with a rosary.

“…that’s something that people didn’t know…he was a religious man, stuck by the Bible, made sure everything that he did was Christian,” he added.

Having been educated in Dubai, South Africa and Singapore, Tino was exposed to various facets of religion and from his eclectic understanding, says “the people that created these religions, of course, did it for the betterment of humanity, but you then realise that they did what they thought was best for them”.

Risking drawing controversy, he added: “All of them are questionable. They try to of course help stir people towards the best path. But if one religion was the best path, then everyone would be following one religion,” he said.

Robert Mugabe /Financial Times/

Turning back to his dad, he said that as a family, they knew for more than 10 years that he was not feeling well.

“My dad was sick for a long time – over 10 years. It was a matter of time. So, for those 10 plus years, we knew as a family that dad was sick and [at] any time the doctor can tell us he has a couple of days or months to live. But that day never came. So I guess within those 10 plus years, a lot was going on, emotional rollercoasters, so we spent as much time with him,” he said.

In his last days in 2019, Mugabe went to Singapore for treatment and that was where Tino was based at the time, pursuing his academic studies.

“He also came to Singapore for his treatment and that’s when he stayed a couple of months. But those five to six months when he was there, that’s when he was most ill. He wasn’t coming out of bed, he wasn’t walking and he didn’t want to eat. He was sick to the point where he was in a wheelchair. My mom would bathe him and I would, at times, come help. It’s a lot seeing someone who used to take care of you at a point where they can’t take care of themselves. It’s painful,” Tino said.

He added that he wanted to make his father proud by taking care of the family. The charming young man alluded to political ambitions in addressing Zimbabwe’s current political landscape. 

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Oliver Meth

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