Comment and Analysis

Meet Robert Mugabe: Still smooth at 90

Drowzy Mole

Drowzy Mole digs into his bank of bits 'n bobs and finds a piece that was cut from Dali Tambo's famous interview with "the Zimbabwe Ruins".

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe with his wife, Grace. (Reuters)

As Zim prez Robert "Bob" Mugabe turns 90, the Drowzy Mole digs into his bank of bits 'n' bobs and finds a piece that was cut from Dali Tambo's famous in-home interview with the man now affectionately known as "the Zimbabwe Ruins".

Drowzy Mole: Uncle Bob, if I may be so bold, you are nearly 90 years old and yet you seem to have the most amazingly good health and stamina. And your skin is as smooth as … er, it looks as smooth as, well, let me say it looks amazingly smooth.

Robert Mugabe: Yes, actually, Doily, my skin is indeed very smooth. They say class struggle can wreak havoc with your skin, but mine has luckily survived unscathed. This may be because we followed a Maoist line rather than the Soviet line, but only History will tell. 

DT: Gosh, may I touch it?

RM: What, History?

DT: No, your skin – well, your cheek. Just for journalistic ethics, you know, to check if it is in fact as smooth as it looks.

RM: Er, yes, by all means … We don't want the judgment of History to go awry. 

[RM leans forward across the table; Tambo stretches out his hand to touch the cheek of the great one. Tambo's long embroidered sleeve sweeps several roast chickens and a bowl of authentic African pap off the table. No one moves.]

DT: Oh, it's wonderful, uncle, wonderful … Such beautiful skin.

[Mugabe's wife and other supporters who have hitherto been silent burst into ululations of praise. Note: Check whether DT added this to the soundtrack.]

DT: Mmm, mmm … Lovely, beautiful, wonderful … Such lovely skin … [He eventually withdraws his hand, but still gazes admiringly upon Mugabe, who beams back.] 

RM: Yes, indeed, I thank the Lord for it. You know I'm a devout Catholic, of course, don't you Doily? 

DT: Oh yes, yes, yes … Catholic … Yes … Mmmm …

RM: And of course the Catholics have a wonderful dress sense. Look at Emeritus Pope Benedict, whose ring I had the honour of kissing, and his absolutely impeccable taste in shoes. Prada only, my dear! But that's Rome, of course, you can get a decent shoe in Rome. We don't get there often enough, the wife and I, do we, dear?

[Man of People leans other way, kisses wife luxuriously on lips. His large spectacles steam up slightly. But he pulls himself away, and signals to the liveried attendants that it is time for dessert.]

RM: Ah, but my dear Doily, let us move on. I'd love to quiz you about your cosmetic habits – I am told you have a secret recipe for face cream, but let's talk about that later, shall we? Away from the bright lights. 

DT: Certainly, uncle … [tape ends]

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