Harare – Former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, says he is proud to have served in his uncle’s governments, but says he won’t be returning to Zimbabwe soon as his safety isn’t guaranteed.
Zhuwao, who was in South Africa and on his way back to Zimbabwe when he got wind of last month’s military takeover, said his farm had been looted and his workers beaten.
‘Pray for those in power’
“When one looks at attacks launched on my farm and farm workers who were frog-marched and severely beaten just for working for me, it is enough evidence that my safety is not guaranteed,” Zhuwao told the private Standard newspaper in a phone interview from South Africa.
“People can say I ran away, yes I did. It’s better than to wait to be killed,” Zhuwawo was quoted as saying.
He called on the country’s religious leaders to “pray for those who are in power to be humane and not persecute people”.
Zhuwao served as labour and social welfare minister under Mugabe’s last government. The dreadlocked 50-year-old was a key ally of former first lady Grace Mugabe and a member of the G40 group of younger ruling party officials who had been on the ascendancy just one month ago before the military stepped in to crush their political aspirations.
Zhuwao said his uncle had stepped down voluntarily on November 21 to prevent the country’s descent into turmoil.
Political career over
“The decision by him to accept to be forced out was largely informed by his desire not to see people of Zimbabwe go into a period of turbulence,” he said.
Zhuwao suggested his own political career was also at an end. “My political life existed for the duration of President Mugabe’s tenure,” he said. “The options that were there politically for me was to become disloyal to him and that to me was not acceptable.”
Zhuwao is the son of Mugabe’s late sister, Sabina, who died seven years ago.