A Harare man who claimed to be President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son recently stormed his heavily-guarded Borrowdale residence demanding to see him before he was arrested.
Brian Chitembeya, 31, was convicted of disorderly conduct when he appeared before Harare magistrate Josephine Sande who fined him $20 or 10 days behind bars for the offence.
Prosecutor Fransisca Mukumbiri proved that on July 9, Chitembeya went to … Borrowdale in Harare — which is Mnangagwa’s residence — where he approached security personnel, comprising Zimbabwe National Army and police officers who were manning the place.
While at the entrance, Chitembeya was interviewed by the security personnel who demanded to know the purpose of his visit.
Chitembeya demanded to see Mnangagwa, claiming the president was his biological father; vowing not to leave unless he saw his “father”.
The soldiers tried to dismiss Chitembeya but he resisted until they engaged Borrowdale Police Station, leading to his arrest.
The recent incident comes hard on the heels of reports by a United Kingdom-based publication that claimed Mnangagwa has a total of 18 children.
The crafty politician, who loyally served under former president Robert Mugabe for nearly six decades before a wedge was drawn between them at the height of Zanu PF party squabbles over Mugabe’s succession, is known for keeping details about his family to himself.
The only time he shared information about his family was in March when his publicists published a biography on his official website, claiming Mnangagwa had nine children, sired with two wives — Jayne, who is now late, and Auxillia.
Curiously, the list of children was later deleted from the website amid indications that it was not conclusive.
In an interview with Mnangagwa’s most prominent son, Emmerson Junior, the UK’s Sunday Times boldly stated that the Zanu PF leader has 18 children.
The paper quotes Emmerson Jnr as saying: “So my brothers and I told him (Mnangagwa) it’s not safe for you to be here. Usually he didn’t take us seriously, but to our surprise he said, ‘OK, let’s get in the car and go.’”
Without directly quoting Mnangagwa’s son, the Sunday Times goes on to state: “They took temporary shelter in an unfinished house one of their other brothers — Mnangagwa has 18 children — was building in a Harare suburb. Plans to escape in a private jet fell through. Plan B was medical evacuation”.
The report added to the mystery given that Mnangagwa’s official website only listed nine children; six from his late wife Jayne and Auxillia’s three boys.
With Jayne, the couple was blessed with six children, Farai, Tasiwa, Vimbayi, Tapiwa, Tariro and Emmerson (junior) Tanaka, while Mnangagwa and Auxillia have been blessed with three children — Emmerson (junior), Sean and Collins.
At a rally in Rushinga before her downfall, former first lady Grace Mugabe sensationally claimed that Mnangagwa, who had become her subject of ridicule, had more than 70 children.
Exiled former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, a past ally of the former vice president who later turned into his fiercest critic, also claimed at some point that Mnangagwa had at least 41 children.
“Well in the spirit of the so-called new dispensation allegedly based on truths and transparency, the public awaits confirmation of whispers that Emmerson has at least 41 children,” Moyo wrote on his Twitter account while in exile.
Revelations by the Sunday Times put Mnangagwa in the same league with both serving and former heads of State known to have large families.
Closer home, former South African president Jacob Zuma has over 22 children. Zuma became the first polygamist leader South Africa has ever had, having married six times. Hate him or like him, Zuma does not make any apologies for it.
In one of his television interviews, Zuma said: “There are plenty of politicians who have mistresses and children that they hide so as to pretend they are monogamous. I prefer to be open. I love my wives and I am proud of my children.”