Robert Mugabe’s lucky break: he had Grace to act as lightning rod | Tania Branigan

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Many draw parallels between the deposed first lady of Zimbabwe and Madame Mao. Both were largely damned for the sins of their husbands

They say that history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes. Zimbabwe’s turmoil has had striking, almost uncanny echoes of China’s more than four decades ago. A charismatic figure revered for leading the struggle for liberation, yet reviled for his crimes once in power, is nearing the end of his long life, and evidently frail. The military and his party peers are increasingly jittery about their future. And at the heart of the struggle is the rise of his much younger, very ambitious wife.

Robert Mugabe has been forced out at 93, after he appeared to be moving to secure his wife’s position. Mao Zedong’s grip remained tight when he died at 82. But his wife, Jiang Qing (“Madame Mao”), lost the ensuing power struggle and was put on trial – as some say Grace Mugabe may be. When the head of the war veterans’ association compared the Mugabes to the Chinese couple on Tuesday, he was only the latest of many Zimbabweans to do so.

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Related: Grace Mugabe: the rags to riches rise and fall of ‘Gucci Grace’

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Link : Robert Mugabe’s lucky break: he had Grace to act as lightning rod | Tania Branigan

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