Robert Mugabe is no longer Zimbabwe’s president, yet his name and presence still dominate news and conversations in the country.
The 94-year-old has been trending as the country digested intimate details he shared about wooing his wife, Grace, who is nicknamed ‘Gucci Grace,’ for her love of luxury items.
There might be no love lost between her and many Zimbabweans, but for the former leader, it was love- – or lust – at first sight.
An emotional Mugabe regaled guests at his mother-in-law’s wake with details of how they met, telling them that he fell in love with his wife when she became his secretary.
Although, he was still married to his first wife Sally at the time, Mugabe could not resist Grace’s charms, he said in local media reports of the event.
“Yes we got involved when Sally was still alive, I had to. Grace and I never dated, I was just introduced to her, and I said to myself, ‘she is a beautiful girl,’” he is reported to have said.
“I looked at her lustfully. Then one day, I said to her ‘I love you,’ and she was numb. I then grabbed her hand and kissed her. She didn’t refuse or protest and then I said to myself ‘now that she has accepted to be kissed, it’s game over.’”
Sally was battling a terminal disease and was in hospital at the time, Mugabe revealed.
He added that he felt torn by his church doctrine against adultery and the pressure from his mother who wanted grandchildren, as Sally could not have children.
Mugabe and Grace went on to marry in 1996 and have three children.
Mugabe also shocked his political allies at the wake last week when he announced that he had buried the hatchet with recently-elected President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who led his shocking ouster from office last year.
Mugabe, who even backed an opposition candidate just before the July 30 elections, told mourners at the event that he had accepted the election results and called for the country to move ahead.
The former revolutionary leader ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years before he was forced to resign last November in an apparent coup staged by the country’s military.
Before his surprise exit, Mugabe was said to have been been positioning his wife to replace him.
Many, however, believe a recent gesture from Mnangagwa to the Mugabes has thawed their previously frosty relationship.
Mnangagwa was reported to have hired a private jet for Grace to fly from Singapore to attend her mother’s funeral in Harare last week.
The move was surprising to observers as Grace was a fierce critic of her husband’s then vice president.
She said Mugabe was happy with the president and thanked him for bringing her home to mourn her mother.
“If it takes my mother’s death for us to restore our old friendship, then let it be. Mnangagwa loves us. He knows we love him too. We pray for him because it is God’s will that he is president of the country. We pray that he be given the wisdom to lead the country, ” Grace said at the wake held in Harare.
President Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba denied the trip was paid for from the government’s purse.
Charamba said President Mnangagwa had approached a group of businesses in Zimbabwe to foot the bill for the Gulfstream jet, according to local media reports.