Mugabe's fall from Grace

by

November 17, 2017
Robert Mugabe, left, and his wife Grace.
Robert Mugabe, center, falls after addressing supporters upon his return from an African Union meeting in Ethiopia in 2015.
AP Soldiers sit on a military vehicle parked on a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, yesterday.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, left, and his wife Grace chant the party's slogan during a solidarity rally in Harare.
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Mugabe's fall from Grace

JOHANNESBURG (AP)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe seemed almost untouchable for much of his nearly four-decade rule. Shrewd and ruthless, he stayed in power despite advancing age, growing opposition, international sanctions and the dissolving economy of a once-prosperous nation.

Now that it seems to finally be here, the abrupt end of the Mugabe era is launching Zimbabwe into the unknown.

Mugabe, who at 93 is the world's oldest head of state, is confined to his home after a military takeover.

In his early days as president, after a long war between black guerrillas and the white rulers of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence, Mugabe reached out to whites. A former schoolteacher, he stressed education and built new schools. Tourism and mining flourished. Zimbabwe was a regional breadbasket.

But around 2000, violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms began, causing agricultural production to plunge. A land reform program was supposed to take much of the country's most fertile land and redistribute it to poor blacks, but Mugabe instead gave prime farms to ZANU-PF leaders and loyalists, relatives and cronies.

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• Mugabe has been accused of stealing from the country's coffers - with an estimated personal wealth of PS8million.

• Mugabe famously dined on elephant and lion meat at his lavish 90th birthday celebrations.

• Mugabe and his wife live in a 25-bedroom mansion in Harare. They are said to have spent PS200,000 on a diamond-studded headboard.

• Mugabe's wife Grace - who he had been trying to line up as his successor - has been dubbed "Gucci Grace" due to her expensive shopping trips.

• Grace once spent PS120,000 on one shopping spree in Paris.

• The dailymail.co.uk said that by 2014 Grace's spending on luxury goods was running at PS2 million a year. That year's shopping list included 12 diamond rings, 62 pairs of Ferragamo shoes, 33 pairs made by Gucci and an PS80,000 Rolex watch.

• Born in South Africa, the former chicken seller was 20 and married when she landed a job as a typist at Mugabe's state house in Harare. President Mugabe was married to Sally Mugabe when he proposed to Grace. Sally, at the time, had terminal cancer.