After spending nearly five decades on the periphery, a 46-year-old man claiming to be the late president Robert Mugabe’s son has come out of the closet.
Tonderai Gabriel Mugabe, born on April 20 1977 at the Chimoio base in Mozambique alleges he is Mugabe’s biological son. In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with ZimSeen, Mugabe narrated where he was born, his upbringing, and how he got to know that the late president was his father.
He spoke about the arduous road he travelled to be traditionally and legally accepted as a family member. Mugabe provided a plethora of official documents to buttress his claim.
A senior Mugabe clan member based in Zvimba, who requested not to be named, told ZimSeen yesterday he was aware of Tonderai Gabriel’s case.
“We know of his existence but we haven’t done family traditions to welcome him into the family,” he said. His account starts in 1976 when his mother, Hilda Maeka whose Chimurenga name was Cde Paidamoyo joined the liberation struggle from Honde Valley and was stationed at Chimoio base.
There, the then 18-year-old Maeka allegedly met the ex-Zimbabwean leader who had been released from prison where he had been incarcerated for 11 years.
During this time, Mugabe was still married to Sally who ten years earlier had lost their firstborn son Michael Nhamodzenyika Mugabe to cerebral malaria on December 26 1966 in Ghana. He was 3.
Nonetheless, Tonderai Gabriel was born a year after his mother’s initial meeting with Mugabe, a development confirmed by Lawrencia Mugabe, daughter to national liberation war heroine and the late president’s sister Bridget Mugabe.
An affidavit in ZimSeen’s possession, signed by Lawrencia on February 11, 2020 reads: “I Lawrencia Machengedza Mugabe…declare that Tonderai Maeka was born at Chimoio base in Mozambique in 1977. I was there when he was born Gabriel Tonderai Mugabe.”
Following his birth, Tonderai Gabriel Mugabe told this publication that he was briefly in the care of Lawrencia before his mother took him to Osibisa, a sub-camp at Chimoio where pregnant women and nursing mothers were taken.
Lawrencia confirmed this development in her written affidavit.
“We separated when the mother took him to Cde Fay Chung. After the war, we thought he and his mother had died because we could not find them. Later on, he was found by Tete Bridget who is my mother. He is the son of Robert Gabriel Mugabe,” reads the affidavit, in part.