The Mugabe siblings and their allegedly plug-wielding first lady mom, Grace, may have sparked a row in South Africa, but that’s not all they are known for. Russell Gorereza, 33, Grace’s son from a previous marriage, Robert Mugabe jnr, 24, and Chatunga Bellarmine Mugabe, 20, are a ticking public-relations timebomb. And it often goes boom.
The siblings, who have been living and partying in Johannesburg since earlier this year, are regular features at Harare nightclubs with an entourage of women, close relatives, former school mates, children of diplomats and politicians who serve at the Mugabes’ will. A favourite haunt is Rufaro Shisanyama in Warren Park in Harare.
They are big spenders. Recently someone shared on social media a US$3000 bill they rang up – three times the annual income per capita in cash-strapped Zimbabwe.
Chatunga posted a video on Facebook showing off a bottle of Armand de Brignac champagne. The bubbly, also known as the “Ace of Spades”, can sell for between R4000 and R10000 a bottle.
A waitress at one of their favourite hang-outs in Harare said: “At times we don’t even get close to them when we serve. Their aides are the ones who deal with payments. All they do is entertain their friends.”
Robert jnr and Chatunga were most recently residents of the Capital 20 West Hotel, over the road from The Regent Apartment Hotel where they stayed before.
According to the company’s website, rooms at the Capital 20 West begin at R1410 a day.
The pair were kicked out of the Regent for unruly behaviour last month.
The Regent offers two-bedroom flats starting at R38000 a month while the “monthly basic package” for the four-bedroom penthouse is R75000.
Staff at both addresses refused to comment on the pair’s exploits.
Gorereza is known to be intimately entwined in Grace’s business interests. He was named in court papers as being behind the seizure of properties belonging to a Lebanese diamond dealer, Jamal Joseph Hamed, who is embroiled in a $1.4-million diamond-ring wrangle with his mother.
Robert jnr and Chatunga relocated to South Africa in January this year. Robert jnr had been studying at the American University in Dubai but dropped out as he had from a military academy in China.
After he failed his matric-equivalent exams, his father has called him out on national television as an “undertaker”, a common disparaging term for those who get the lowest symbol – a “U”.
Bearing a striking resemblance to his father, Chatunga could be the president’s favourite son.
He was expelled for wayward behaviour from St George’s College, a Catholic-run school in Harare.
Some of Harare’s socialites such as Wicknell Chivayo are close to the Mugabe boys – a ticket to the powerful Grace Mugabe.
“That’s the shortest route to an audience with the first lady. She always creates time for her sons. To her they are still babies,” said a Harare socialite.
– Additional reporting Naledi Shange and Jan Bornman