Robert Mugabe Jnr opens up on politics, his father and his lack of freedom


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The name Robert Mugabe needs no introduction. However, when it comes with the suffix “junior” it’s about his chosen heir to the name and son, aptly known as “Tino”, which is short for Tinotenda (thank you), who describes himself as a hustler.

Tino, 30, is the late Mugabe’s second child with his surviving wife, Grace, and the first son before Bellarmine Chatunga, 25, who the former president believed would take after him.

Mugabe also had a son named Nhamodzenyika (the country’s troubles) who was born in 1963 in Ghana, He died three years later due to cerebral malaria.

Nhamodzenyika’s mother, who was Ghanaian by birth and later became Zimbabwe’s first lady, Sarah Francesca “Sally” nee Hayfron, died in 1992 due to kidney failure. Mugabe later married Grace.

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

“Stizz”, as Tino was known 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.”

Tino never got to enjoy life like other first children of African strongmen, such as Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, now vice-president and son of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

“I didn’t have access to the freedom that everyone else had. For me, the main thing in my life has always been freedom, getting personal freedom and for most of my life I never had that but financial freedom, okay fine, fine, yes, but then freedom of choice to be able to be where and who I want to be I didn’t have because of who my parents were,” he said.

Tino is pursuing a political career, but that was not his first choice. He wanted to play professional basketball and even make it into the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States, but he blames that unrealised dream on his family legacy.

“There’s a lot of things, politics. I started to understand who I was and the role I should be playing in my life. I can’t fill that role playing basketball,” he said.

Speaking about his father, Tino said that as a Roman Catholic, Mugabe 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.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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