Mugabe allies' daughters use social media to distance themselves from Dad

2016-05-27 12:39
Robert Mugabe (File: AP)

Robert Mugabe (File: AP)

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Harare - You might be Daddy's girl but that doesn't mean you agree with everything he or his friends do.

That's the message being quietly put out on social media by the daughters of several of President Robert Mugabe's ministers and allies.

The latest to speak out is Ellen Vannessa Chironga, the daughter of prominent Harare businessman and former MP Phillip Chiyangwa. Chiyangwa is the head of ZIFA, the national football governing body. He is related to Mugabe.

That hasn't stopped his daughter, who ran a lingerie shop in Harare not so long ago, announcing: "There are a lot of things I completely disagree with in regards to the counsel and leadership of this country."

As tens of thousands of ruling party supporters marched in support of Mugabe in Harare on Wednesday, Chironga, 30, took to Facebook and Instagram to say that she was "a frustrated and angry and tired" Zimbabwean.

"One thing needs to be said," Chironga posted. "I cannot proudly hold my flag because what it stands for isn't what my country is today."

Poverty and corruption 

In a country where criticism of the status quo is unusual from those closest to the ruling party, Chironga's words have attracted interest.

She's not the first child of a Mugabe ally to use social media to put a little distance between herself and her parents.

Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa and Gamuchirai Chinamasa are the daughters of Health Minister David Parirenyatwa and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa respectively. As a student in 2008, Gamuchirai Chinamasa was put on Canada's sanctions list because of her connection to the Mugabe government. Both women now work in the media.

Their fondness for their fathers is not in doubt. But recently they've both quietly demanded to be judged as individuals, not just daughters. Gamuchirai Chinamasa tweeted this week: "I believe in my father but I also believe in myself more."

Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa has been praised by some for the way she dealt with an online backlash following this month's radio interview with Evan Mawarire, the Harare pastor who started #ThisFlag.

This growing online protest aims to hold the Mugabe government to account for poverty and corruption.

Listeners to Parirenyatwa's live show were surprised when at the beginning she said another guest would take part alongside Mawarire: "political analyst" Tafadzwa Musarara. It became clear that Musarara had been brought in to rubbish the pastor. 

Tough questions 

When Zimbabweans turned on Parirenyatwa, accusing her of pro-Zanu-PF bias, she hit back, tweeting: "[Musarara] was present, but not on my invitation."

The analyst has since disputed her claim, insisting that she did invite him. 

But Parirenyatwa's words appear to be a glimpse into the difficulties of working in Zimbabwe's fettered media environment - difficulties that apparently even a minister's daughter cannot avoid.

In a country that remains bitterly-divided politically, Zimbabweans who might tend towards criticism of government allies are increasingly sticking up for their children.

Tweeted @dearAngelbert this week: "But this thing of asking ministers' children questions that should be asked their parents ain't cool, can they just tweet in peace?"

In an honest blog post last year, Vimbai Midzi, the daughter of the late former cabinet minister Amos Midzi, wrote about the importance of asking "tough questions" of "daddy [and mommy] dearest."

The question is: will they listen?


Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  robert mugabe  |  david parirenyatwa  |  patrick chinamasa  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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