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Mugabe lamented ‘betrayal by lieutenants’

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HARARE (Agencies) – Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe cried and lamented “betrayal by his lieutenants” when he agreed to step down last week under pressure from the military and his party after 37 years in power, the Standard newspaper said in its Sunday edition.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe loyalist, was sworn in on Friday and attention is focused on whether he will name a broad-based government or select figures from Mr Mugabe’s era.

The newspaper quoted sources within Mr Mugabe’s inner circle as saying the devout Catholic held a rosary as he told his close associates and a team of negotiators at his “Blue House” Harare mansion that he was resigning. He announced the decision as parliament heard a motion to impeach him.

“He looked down and said ‘people were chameleons’,” one of the sources was quoted as saying.

The state-owned Sunday Mail quoted Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Jesuit priest who is a close Mugabe friend and mediated his resignation with the military, as saying Mr Mugabe’s face “just glowed” after he signed the resignation letter.

“So we are not talking about a bitter man. I told him that it was good for him to see someone running the country…,” Father Mukonori told the Sunday Mail.

Mr Mugabe’s nephew said yesterday the ousted president was in good health and “quite jovial”.

“He is fine. I have been to see him, he is quite jovial,” Leo Mugabe, son of Mr Mugabe’s late sister Sabina, said.

“He is actually looking forward to his new life, farming and staying at the rural home. He has taken it well.”

Leo Mugabe declined to discuss the $10-million retirement bonus reportedly granted to the 93-year-old former president as part of
a deal to persuade him to eventually resign on Tuesday.

In the exit negotiations, Mr Mugabe was granted a $10-million lump sum, full immunity and allowed to keep his assets, according to the respected Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.

He will still be paid his full salary, in line with constitution, while his wife Grace will reportedly receive half his pay after his death.

Asked about the deal, Mr Mugabe’s long-time spokesman George Charamba said “the package of a retiring president will be defined (by) law”. He earlier said immunity had never been discussed during the talks between the president and the army chiefs who briefly put Mr Mugabe under house arrest.

Leo added that Grace was now concentrating on plans to build a university in his honour.

“I like the spirit she has, she is with him all the time. She is an amazing person. She wants to continue planning the Robert Mugabe University so they have something to do,” he said.

In August, Zimbabwe announced plans to build the $1 billion post-graduate university in Mazowe, 35 kilometres outside Harare.

The plan drew fierce criticism as Mr Mugabe is accused of brutal repression and bringing the country to economic ruin.

At his swearing in ceremony on Friday, Mr Mnangagwa said he valued democracy, tolerance and the rule of law and would tackle corruption. He has also urged citizens not to undertake “vengeful retribution”.

The new government is already moving to bring some of Mr Mugabe and his wife’s close associates to book and former finance minister Ignatius Chombo was in court on Saturday on corruption charges.

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