Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace have been pictured for the first time since the former dictator was granted immunity as part of a resignation deal.
Under the agreement drawn up to get the former dictator to stand down, Mugabe’s whole family are understood to have been given assurances of their safety – including his hated wife Gucci Grace.
The pair were pictured inside their Blue Roof mansion in Zimbabwe alongside the aides who helped secure their bumper retirement package.
A government source claimed Mugabe, 93, said he wanted to die in Zimbabwe and had no plans to live in exile, so negotiated a deal which included a pension, holiday and transport allowance, health insurance and security.
The tipping point appears to be Mugabe’s realisation he would be impeached, which prompted him to come to the bargaining table to avoid an ‘undignified’ ousting.
Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace have been pictured for the first time since the former dictator was granted immunity as part of a resignation deal. In the top row, left to right is Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Acting Director General Aaron Daniel Tonde Nhpera, Gideon Gono and Father Fidelis Mukonori
Robert Mugabe has been granted immunity and allowed to remain safely in Zimbabwe under a resignation deal, sources have said
Grace looks downcast on the sofa surrounded by cushions as her husband leans away from her, looking frail in a dark suit.
In the top row, standing behind the former first couple, is Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Acting Director General Aaron Daniel Tonde Nhpera, Gideon Gono and Father Fidelis Mukonori.
The picture was taken two days ago following Mugabe’s resignation, and having been shared widely online, it has attracted streams of derogatory and gloating online comments, particularly about the awkward body language and bleak facial expressions of Gucci Grace.
Four similar pictures were captured at the Chinese-inspired mansion known as Graceland on Tuesday to mark the announcement that Mugabe was surrendering power after 37 years.
The former first lady has not been seen in public since she attended a function to mark the new Robert Mugabe University, in the capital Harare, ten days ago.
Talking about the picture, Gono told Nehanda Radio it was leaked ‘maliciously’ by someone with ‘ulterior motives’.
He said it was deliberately sent from the inner sanctum of the Mugabe household to show Grace looking glum, but claims her mood was ‘all smiles’.
Gono, when asked why he stood by the dictator’s side, said: ‘People tend to run away from you when the chips are down and few will have the courage to stand by you during your darkest moments.
‘I’m not ashamed to say that I have remained loyal and a friend of the former President to the end, not for financial or commercial reasons but from a point of principle.’
Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe from independence in 1980, stepped down on Tuesday after the army seized power and the ruling party turned against him. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the former vice president sacked by Mugabe earlier this month, is set to be sworn in as president on Friday.
A government source said Mugabe, 93, told negotiators he wanted to die in Zimbabwe and had no plans to live in exile.
‘It was very emotional for him and he was forceful about it,’ said the source, who is not authorised to speak on the details of the negotiated settlement.
‘For him it was very important that he be guaranteed security to stay in the country…although that will not stop him from travelling abroad when he wants to or has to,’ the source said.
Mugabe resigned on Tuesday as parliament began a process to impeach him, sparking wild celebrations in the streets.
His rapid downfall after 37 years in power was triggered by a battle to succeed him that pitted Mnangagwa against Mugabe’s much younger wife Grace.
A second source said: ‘The outgoing president is obviously aware of the public hostility to his wife, the anger in some circles about the manner in which she conducted herself and approached ZANU-PF party politics.’
‘In that regard, it became necessary to also assure him that his whole family, including the wife, would be safe and secure.’
Mugabe had clung on to power precariously for a week after the military intervened. He angered many Zimbabweans when he did not resign in a televised national address on Sunday as many had anticipated.
The government source said the tipping point for him was the realisation that he would be impeached and ousted in an undignified way.
‘When the process started, he then realised he had lost the party,’ the source said.
Mugabe will receive a retirement package that includes a pension, housing, holiday and transport allowance, health insurance, limited air travel and security in accordance with Zimbabwean law.
The ageing former president was ‘rugged and drained’ by events of the past week and may travel to Singapore for medical checks in the coming weeks, the source said.
He had been due to leave for Singapore in mid-November before the military put him under house arrest.
Mnangagwa was sentenced to ten years in jail, being kept at Salisbury Prison, Grey Prison, Khami Prison and Harare Prison. While imprisoned in Salisbury (later renamed Harare), he became close to Mugabe and other nationalist leaders. Pictured: Mnangagwa with Mugabe and Josiah Tongogara, a guerrilla commander
Military vehicles were seen patrolling the streets of the capital Harare after it emerged that Mugabe and his family had been arrested
The 93-year-old Mugabe, who resigned on Tuesday as lawmakers began impeaching him, has kept a low profile since his stunning speech to the nation on Sunday night in which he defied calls to step down.
He is said to remain in the capital, Harare, with former first lady Grace but it is not clear under what terms.
Speculation he has secured guarantees of protection, including immunity from prosecution, were confirmed by sources this morning.
George Charamba, 56, a top aide to the former president told The Times Mugabe was not planning to leave Zimbabwe.
The 93-year-old is said to be penning his memoirs and he is hoping his wife will be able to the family businesses which includes a university in the Mugabe name.
But the fact the Mugabes will retain their property portfolio has angered many of his critics – some of which are serving Zanu-PF officials.
One, Forward Mazvitorera, told The Times Mugabe should be ‘prosecuted and sent to jail for a long time’.
He went one step further and said if he saw his former boss in the street he would attack him.
‘He squandered my livelihood,’ he said.
Tino Marafu who runs a small business in Harare told the paper: ‘Why do people think that once a crook is out it’s now OK for them to keep their empire?
‘Why even bother overthrowing them if we are not going to reclaim money and assets.’
He claimed it sent the wrong message to the next leader – Emmerson Mnangagwa – a man known as The Crocodile.
Zimbabwe’s main opposition said today it wanted incoming president to dismantle all pillars of repression that helped sustain Robert Mugabe’s 37 years in power.
In its first official comments since Mugabe resigned on Tuesday, the MDC said it was cautiously optimistic that a Mnangagwa presidency would not ‘mimic and replicate the evil, corrupt, decadent and incompetent Mugabe regime’.
Spokesman Obert Gutu said ‘the electoral playing field should have been completely evened up’ when the country goes into elections next year.
Gutu says in a statement Thursday that the opposition party will closely watch Mnangagwa’s next moves, ‘particularly regarding the dismantling of all the oppressive pillars of repression and oppression that had been put in place by the outgoing Mugabe regime’.
Mr Mnangagwa gleefully referred to Mugabe as ‘the former president’ to wild cheers from the watching Zanu PF supporters as he also pledged peace, security and jobs for Zimbabwe’s ailing economy
Longtime deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, fired by Mugabe earlier this month, is set to be sworn in Friday after making a triumphant return to the country.
He greeted a cheering crowd Wednesday night.
Family friends of Mugabe and members of his security detail previously told MailOnline that the military were prepared to let the 93-year-old leave the country unharmed, but had a very different opinion when it came to his second wife – dubbed Gucci Grace because of her love of lavish shopping sprees.
One of his Mugabe’s protection team told MailOnline: ‘The generals promised him he could leave safely.
‘The generals were insisting that Grace must be prosecuted. It was a burning issue on Tuesday.
‘I don’t know what the outcome was, but they were insisting that they might forgive the old man but not Grace.’
But it appears Mugabe will not be leaving the country, but rather will live in Zimbabwe as a free man.
Mr Mnangagwa pledged to be a ‘servant’ to the people of Zimbabwe and promised a ‘new age of democracy’ for the country after four decades of dictatorial rule under his predecessor
Zimbabwe’s President Designate Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, on Wednesday gave his first speech to Zanu PF supporters since Mugabe resigned, claiming he was poisoned and decided to overthrow the dictator before he was ‘eliminated’
Mugabe was said to be ‘so depressed he couldn’t lift his feet’ as he watched his countrymen celebrate his departure, and was said to be confessing his sins to trusted advisor Father Mukonori.
One of the former dictator’s security team said: ‘He is depressed to the extent he is failing to walk. He is dragging his feet.
‘Grace has been refusing to go outside into the open air all day as well,’ he said. ‘They both know the end has come and they are deeply depressed. Their greatest worry is what is going to happen to them and their family.’
He added: ‘The issue of Grace was a burning one. The generals were going to press ahead with prosecuting her for crimes including money laundering, capturing of state assets and interfering with government business.’
It was Grace’s decision to try and oust Mnangagwa from power and clear a path for her own succession to the presidency that sparked the military uprising which ultimately toppled her husband.
A member of the Mugabe family who is close to the deposed president said: ‘Bob has been holding prayers and confessing with Father Mukonori and the family. He feels depressed now the whole country is celebrating about him going.’
The former dictator, who is a Catholic, has confessed to Father Fidelis Mukonori, a priest who had been mediating in his negotiations with the armed forces.
There were wild celebrations among Zanu PF supporters who gathered to see The Crocodile speak in Harare, following a night of jubilation over Mugabe’s departure
Activists and human rights groups are already expressing concerns as Zimbabwe’s incoming leader prepares to be sworn in.
The pastor who led large anti-government protests last year, Evan Mawarire, said Zimbabweans should let Emmerson Mnangagwa know that the country should be for everyone and not just the ruling party.
Mr Mnangagwa in his first speech in his new role on Wednesday spoke about ‘working together’, but also recited slogans from the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Human Rights Watch is urging Zimbabwe’s military to publicly identify everyone detained after it swept in last week and took then-president Robert Mugabe under house arrest.
The military has said it was targeting ‘criminals’ close to first lady Grace Mugabe who were accused of hurting the economy.