Mugabe's son-in-law: 'I worked in hotels, cleaning toilets in US'

Ex-president Robert Mugabe's son in law, Simba Chikore, has reportedly described himself as a "simple young Zimbabwean man", who struggled to finance his own education while studying in the United States.

Chikore, who claimed that he was raised by God-fearing parents, was married to Mugabe's daughter Bona in 2014.

According to The Standard newspaper, Chikore said that he had to take up odd jobs in the US in order to pursue his studies in aviation.

This was in 1997, when the southern African country's economic situation started to deteriorate.

"While at university, this was the time that things changed in Zimbabwe. It was the time that war veterans started to demand money and so on and so forth, the Zimbabwe dollar was falling against the American dollar.

"I got to a point where I had nothing. So I started to work, I applied to the immigration department for permission to work off campus

'I worked in industries'

"I worked at MacDonald's. I started working in hotels, cleaning toilets, carrying people’s bags, being a handyman.

"I worked in industries carrying heavy things like cement, detergents," said Chikore.

He said that after acquiring his degree, he worked for various airline companies, which included Air Zimbabwe and Qatar Airways, before eventually going back to the southern African nation's airline where he worked as its Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Chikore's appointment at Air Zimbabwe caused an uproar two years ago, as Mugabe's critics believed he did not have the necessary qualifications for the job. Others, like the opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) party spokesperson said that the move confirmed that the Mugabe dynasty had "virtually privatised the state".

But Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo told the official Herald newspaper at the time that Chikore's credentials "actually surpassed the required qualifications".

He said that Chikore had been one of more than 100 applicants for the post.

Raging debate

In recent months, Chikore's name has again been at the centre of a raging debate over a Zimbabwe Airways deal, which many believed was being financed by his in-laws.

He has, however, denied the reports, saying that he was "only doing a service to his country and is not on a self-enrichment exercise".

"The company (Zimbabwe Airways) itself belongs to the government of Zimbabwe, the proof is there and it’s public knowledge.

"I don't have to go loud and say they are not my planes. In fact, where would I get that kind of money to buy the aircraft?," Chikore was quoted as saying.

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