Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace has reportedly been having a secret affair with central bank governor, Gideon Gono.
South African Sunday Times newspaper reports that Grace Mugabe- who is 41 years younger than Zimbabwe’s 86-year-old president,
has allegedly spent the last five years cuckolding him with Gideon Gono, her husband’s financial adviser and key politically ally.
The report says that Mugabe’s sister Sabina warned her brother before she died that he was being betrayed by two of the most important people in his personal and political life: his wife and his personal banker, a pivotal member of his regime.
The couple would meet as often as three times a month either at Grace’s dairy farm or in expensive hotels in South Africa as well as on foreign trips to Asia.
Mugabe is said to have learnt the shocking news as he sat by his dying sister’s bed in July. He is said to have left the meeting “devastated” although initially refusing to believe the allegations.
The president later consulted his most trusted bodyguard, Cain Chademana, who had sat in on the meeting with Sabina.
The bodyguard reportedly said, like other members of the secret service, he had also heard the rumours.
Particularly infuriating for Mugabe however, was the fact that he had encouraged the friendship thinking the pair was discussing mutual business interests.
Chademana – who is said to be the source of the story by intelligence officers quoted by the newspaper – has since lost his life amid suspicions that he was poisoned.
His body, according to The South African Sunday Times, was handed to his family for burial at the end of August. The Sunday Times alleges no autopsy was carried out.
The newspaper claims officials had hoped the secret affair would be buried with Chademana but renegade officers in the intelligence services, unhappy with conditions of service, have started talking.
Still, it is not the first time Grace has been linked to affairs behind her ageing husband’s back.
One former lover, Peter Pamire, died in a mysterious car accident. Another, James Makamba, fled the country.
But never before has Grace been romantically involved with a politician in Mugabe’s inner circle. And never before has a man so close to the president risked allowing it to happen, the South African Sunday Times says.
Gono has known Mrs Mugabe, who married the president in 1996, for at least 15 years and they are partners in a number of business enterprises.
He is a pillar of the Zanu PF party that has held on to power in Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain.
As one of Mugabe’s most trusted friends, he has served since 2003 as head of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe – a period that saw the country’s currency suffer hyperinflation of more than a billion per cent a year.
While many of Zimbabwe’s desperately poor people struggle to find enough food to eat, Gono lives in a 47-bedroom mansion with swimming pool, gym and its own mini theatre.
Yesterday a source close to the banker confirmed that he and the first lady were lovers and claimed they had planned a life together after Mugabe’s death.
The senior official in Gono’s office told South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper: ‘Mugabe trusted Gono. He even thought our boss was taking care of the first lady, keeping a protective eye on her so that she could not again be adulterous.’
Mugabe’s relationship with Grace, his former secretary, is itself founded on infidelity.
Two of their three children were born when Mugabe was still married to his popular first wife, Sally, who was battling a kidney disease from which she died in 1992.