Mugabe travelled to Nigeria to witness the inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari as the new president, taking over from Goodluck Jonathan following smooth polls.
On his arrival, Mugabe was swamped by Nigerian journalists who wanted to know when he would step down and make way for fresh blood and whether there was democracy in Zimbabwe. They asked abouthis health and if ever he desired political change.
While he warmly responded to a journalist who greeted him and asked if he was happy to be in Nigeria, Mugabe suddenly turned stony-faced when the media started asking direct questions about his leadership.
A young woman asked most of the questions, including: “When will there be change (in Zimbabwe)? Will there ever be change just like in Nigeria?” Instead of responding as he has been doing during his recent trips to other countries, Mugabe, flanked by numerous aides, remained silent and wore a visibly angry face as he was taken to another car on his way from the airport.
Frustrated by his failure to talk to them, the journalists passed disparaging comments about Mugabe’s age when he left, observing that he was too old and there was no democracy in Zimbabwe.
His aides were left with egg on their face as they tried to keep the journalists away from Mugabe, with the female journalist loudly complaining that one bodyguard was pushing her. The confused aides chose to speak in the Shona language, apparently not aware that the journalists would not understand it.
One of the aides kept saying: “Aiwa, mirai, mirai, mirai! (No, stop, stop, stop!)” to which the female journalist responded: “I don’t understand that language”. Mugabe’s aides have been known to use heavy-handed tactics whenever protesters or journalists have tried to confront Mugabe in the past.
His wife Grace, hit a journalist with her diamond-encrusted fist in Hong Kong a few years ago.
Recently, Zimbabwean journalists were forced to delete pictures of Mugabe when he fell at the Harare International Airport.
A CIO operative, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “The president would have been seriously embarrassed if officers from the close security unit had dealt harshly with the journalists. It seems the journalists were more concerned with humiliating him than anything else, so the calm response was the best they could do under those circumstances.”Post published in: News