Mugabes bring the house down with stage coup
FOR the first time Zimbabweans can now laugh at Robert Mugabe at the theatre without worrying they may be arrested or the play banned. In a new and daring comedy about the soft coup in Harare in November, audiences have packed out the theatre and are convulsed with laughter as they watch actress Carol Magena playing Grace, teetering around stage trying to seduce the army commander, while her frail old husband, Robert Mugabe, 93 is slumped in his chair, asleep.
The play opens when Mugabe is under house arrest after the military has taken over and Grace is shrieking at anyone who will listen that she wants to leave Zimbabwe immediately and go to Dubai, her favourite shopping destination.
Playwright Charles Munganasa has written a hilarious script of what he imagines the first couple would be saying to one another in their mansion, and to the army commander, Constantino Chiwenga, after the army took power.
Magena said she was having the “time of her life” as the former first lady who emerged into Zimbabwe’s political arena only three years ago and hatched a plan to inherit the top job from her husband. She said it was easy to portray Grace as the former first lady was so regularly on state TV. “She ensured all her meetings were on TV. We saw that she is a phenomenal character, who almost overnight was in the spotlight. Everyone was talking about her. We watched as she dominated the media, getting people fired, insulting senior people. She was calling the shots, she was in control of Zimbabwe.” The reality was that Mugabe, pushed by his wife, sacked his loyal vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa in October, and he, believing he would be arrested or killed, fled, walking across the border to Mozambique, and then to South Africa. His loyal military ally Chiwenga moved a few dilapidated tanks into town, took over the state broadcaster and surrounded Mugabe’s mansion.
And with limited violence and a few arrests that was the end of Mugabe’s long and ruinous 37 years in power. Tens of thousands celebrated when he resigned and Mnangagwa was sworn into office.
Munganasa says he used facts and his imagination to create what he believes was the conversation in the first family’s mansion at the end. The play’s short three-day run was packed out and extended this week. It closed on Friday but will tour Zimbabwe and South Africa. – Independent Foreign News Service
CENTRE STAGE: Robert Mugabe with his wife Grace. A play on their final days at the helm of Zimbabwe has proved popular.