The kids suffer the most at such times, plucked harshly as they are from the ample bosom of their cosseted upbringing and suddenly forced to fend for themselves in a callous and uncaring world.
It must be especially difficult for the youngest one, Bellarmine Chatunga Mugabe.
Only recently this 20-year-old scamp posted a video of himself on Instagram pouring Champagne over his garish wristwatch at some loud and upmarket Johannesburg night club with the caption: “$60 000 on the wrist when your daddy run the whole country ya know!!!”
And no ordinary fizz either but Armand de Brignac. There are a few online retailers offering the stuff at about R4 400 a pop, but it’s maybe double that in the nightclubs.
And, alas, no longer for young Bellarmine either. How sobering it must be to realise that the next time he wants to wash his watch in wine he’ll have to make do with a local chenin or a boxed blend.
As an aside, we don’t approve of such profligacy with the lady petrol and such disruptive behaviour at the Mahogany Ridge will result in swift ejection from the premises, most likely in an airborne manner best described as head-first and horizontal.
The regulars are not, however, a heartless bunch and we do note how Bellarmine and his older brother Bob Junior touchingly defended their aged father on social media by posting a BBC video from 1980 in which Robert Mugabe, who’d just been elected prime minister, insisted he would not be entertaining any coups d’état in Zimbabwe.
Which is rather droll when you consider that the Zimbo defence force has insisted it won’t be entertaining any coups there either and military leaders continue to insist the lockdown of Harare is, in fact, merely an operation to round up criminals in the government causing social and economic suffering and to stop counter-revolutionaries from taking over the country. And, naturally, Mugabe has been placed under house arrest to ensure his safety and security.
“Significant progress has been made in our operation,” the military said in a statement yesterday. “We have accounted for some of the criminals while others are still at large.”
Most commentators are not impressed with this explanation and have described this week’s events as a bloodless coup. Which may well be the case, but it is the notion of a coup-less coup that intrigues and this could explain what appears to be bewildered amusement on Mugabe’s part.
It’s either that or the senility.
Authorities in Harare released a photograph of Mugabe standing alongside military chief General Constantino Chiwenga ahead of “make-or-break” talks at State House on Thursday evening.
In this informal snap, Chiwenga smiles like a man in the pound seats, the guy holding all the aces. He no doubt found it amusing that Jacob Zuma, in his role as chair of the Southern African Development Community, had sent two special envoys to Harare, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo, to somehow play a mediating role in this mischief.
This mission from a man who needs a bully of bodyguards wherever he travels in his own country? Little wonder that, in that photograph, Mugabe appears to be in great hysterics. That, and the fact that, as previously stated, he could well be off his rocker. Is it possible he has no idea what’s happening? His mouth is open, as if in mid-cackle. “What’s going on?” he seems to be saying. “Is it my birthday? Again?”
First reports of the talks that followed suggest the military have a serious jones for Grace Mugabe and want the First Shopper dragged into court and tried for usurping executive authority from her husband.
Meanwhile, it appears most ordinary Zimbabweans want Mugabe gone. But there is uncertainty about the future – particularly as it is one that will no doubt feature Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose dismissal as vice-president last week sparked this whole mess.
Mnangagwa is a particularly nasty piece of work, the apparent mastermind behind the massacres in Matabeleland in the mid-1980s. He’ll be wanting a word or two with Grace about why she allegedly tried to poison him.
No wonder, then, there’s been no word from her. She’d be advised to keep low for a while. A long while.
* Donaldson’s A Famous Grouse column is published every Saturday.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.