The fabulous Mugabe brothers – The offspring of Africa’s strongmen are living it up

THE Mugabe brothers are having a night out again. Here they are showing off their outfits: distressed white denim, high-top sneakers, statement sunglasses. Now they’re in a VIP booth at a club, swaying and swigging from bottles of Moët & Chandon while the music pumps. At some point they will post a flame emoji, indicating that the evening is “lit”.

Like many millennials, Robert Mugabe junior and Bellarmine, his younger brother, shamelessly chronicle their days (and late nights) on Instagram, a social-media site for sharing pictures. Uniquely, however, their 93-year-old father is the president of Zimbabwe. The steady stream of photos and videos they post offers an unusual and oddly intimate window into their privileged personal lives. Lately the two brothers appear to be spending much of their time in Johannesburg. Life is more “lit” there than back home in Zimbabwe, where their father has ruined the economy.

The Mugabe brothers are not the only scions of African strongmen who are tactless about what they share on social media. Lawrence Lual Malong Yor junior, the stepson of a South Sudanese general, documents his love of luxury on Facebook with photos of himself flying first-class and getting hot-stone massages. One video shows him lying in a pile of $100 bills (which he claims make up $1m that he will donate to charity).

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Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea (and coincidently also the vice-president) posts photos of himself luxuriating in private jets, posing behind the wheels of fancy cars, at parties and on exotic foreign trips. A photo from his recent 1920s-themed birthday bash shows a woman jumping out of a giant cake. He appears undeterred by his trial in France, where he is accused of embezzling more than $100m from public funds and spending it on his high-flying lifestyle. Mr Obiang claimed that he has immunity from prosecution. A verdict is expected in October.

The active social lives of the two youngest Mugabe brothers have not gone unnoticed back home. The People’s Democratic Party, which is led by a former finance minister, Tendai Biti, has accused them of “spending taxpayers’ money like confetti”.

Despots’ brats do not only use social media for boasting. Robert Mugabe junior’s Instagram account has, at times, provided helpful updates on the health of his father, a matter of national importance given the president’s faltering grip on power. On one occasion the younger Mr Mugabe kindly informed the world that the nonagenarian was “healthy and alive…so all the haters can RIP.”

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline “Lots not to like”
They are now notorious for partying into the wee hours of the morning with reckless abandon, but even by their chronically boozing standards, President Robert Mugabe sons — Robert Jnr and Chatunga Bellarmine — last month left patrons at a local nightclub stunned as they excessively guzzled whiskey and champagne; drinking like fish.

President Robert Mugabe’s sons Robert Jr (right) and Bellarmine Chatunga

They painted the town red through their ostentatious champagne lifestyle — enjoyment of luxuries and expensive pleasures — which left some awestruck and others green with envy.

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that the two boys took the capital by storm and spent a huge sum at Club 1+1, located at the Longcheng Plaza, next to the National Sports Stadium.

The boys were recently in town to celebrate First Lady Grace Mugabe’s 52nd birthday.

Many were left in awe as Mugabe’s sons and a large entourage of hangers-on and friends took the club by storm, splurging money confetti at a wedding. For many this looked like a Las Vegas scene in a Hollywood movie script as the Mugabe youngsters kept tables in the VIP section flowing with champagne and expensive whiskey non-stop.

“They left patrons stunned, while others were awed, as they splashed money on expensive champagnes. Other socialites who were at the club were asking who was paying such a huge bill on drinks — was it the state or the family,” a patron who was in the VIP section at the club said.

Patrons who were also in the pub on the day in question told the Independent that the boys ordered drinks, which included champagne and whiskey, which ran into thousands of dollars.

One patron counted 51 bottles averaging US$190 each.

Socialites say the proverb which goes “an apple does not fall away from its tree”, seems to sum up the similarities between Mugabe’s sons and their mother First Lady Grace Mugabe, who has gained the moniker “Gucci” for her love for designer brands.

While the family continues to splash money through its extravagance, questions have been asked about the source of funding given the underperformance of the family’s business empire. The lifestyle of first families across the globe has always been a matter of public scrutiny, especially in developing countries like Zimbabwe, where many are struggling to live on more than a dollar a day due to a harsh economic environment.

One of the most remembered lavish affairs still etched on the minds of many was the 1992 marriage of former Zaire’s dictator Mobutu Sese Seko’s daughter, Yakpwa, known as “Yaki”.

Reports show that she wore a dress estimated to have cost US$70 000 complemented by a US$3 million gem set that was a present from her father. More than 2 500 guests at this party ate lobster and caviar, sipping pink champagne and more than 1000 bottles of fine wine before tucking into a lavish wedding cake flown in from France on a specially chartered plane.

The spending spree of Mugabe’s sons comes a few weeks after Robert Jnr and Chatunga splashed thousands across the border in another jamboree which was later marred by chaos.

Their extravagant life has become a chronic headache for the First Family, amid concerns that they could be relocated to Zimbabwe due to security fears in neighbouring South Africa.

As reported by the Independent early last month, Mugabe’s sons were recently evicted from a luxurious apartment in South Africa’s most affluent area of Sandton in Johannesburg after a violent brawl that left one security officer with a broken leg and arm. It is also understood that the boys’ security team has also been beefed up following the brawl.

Last week First Lady Grace Mugabe admitted that her two sons — Robert Junior and Chatunga Bellarmine have taken to beer binges and drugs. Grace told family and friends at her sister’s birthday party in Shamva recently that her two sons were giving her sleepless nights.

“Nowadays, there are spirits attacking our children. The spirit of drinking, drug abuse and doing other abnormal things way beyond their age,” Grace said.

“If I am to say women stand up to talk about your children, very few women can be brave enough to talk about that without breaking down.”

Informed sources in Harare and Johannesburg told the Independent the First Family is now in a dilemma on whether to bring them back or keep them outside Zimbabwe’s borders due to their lifestyles.

“This has become a headache for Mugabe and his family socially, reputation-wise, as well as on security concerns. Bring them to Zimbabwe while keeping them out of the public eye to avoid fuel resentment triggered by their lavish lifestyle is difficult. The other side is that South Africa has proved to be a hostile environment for them,” a source said.

Following last month’s violent brawl, Grace hurried to Johannesburg to vacate her boys from The Regent and ensure their safety. As a result, she failed to attend Mugabe’s youth rally address in Masvingo. The fracas occurred a day before the rally on June 30.

Mugabe’s family and state security services responsible for VIP protection fear South Africa’s crime-ridden environment is a security threat to the boys. There are also fears they could also sink into the country’s Sodom and Gomorrah.
Local prominent people’s children have died in mysterious circumstances there.