A STATE-LED fightback against newspaper claims that President Robert Mugabe ordered his bodyguard’s murder to cover up an affair between his wife, Grace, and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono has suffered a major setback.
In an unprecedented development, government officials released what they said was Cain Chademana’s death certificate, along with a statement from a hospital where he died, in an attempt to refute that he had been poisoned as claimed by the Sunday Times newspapers in South Africa and Britain.
But major discrepancies have been discovered in the documents, raising more questions than answers.
Eagle-eyed New Zimbabwe.com readers noted that the fading official stamps on the death certificate would suggest it was certified BEFORE it was even issued.
The document was signed by one Milcah Mapfumo for the Registrar General on August 31, 2010, and bears a Harare District Registry (Death Section) stamp also showing the same date.
But incredibly, the death certificate also bears a certification stamp stating it is a “true copy of the original”, yet the date on the stamp is August 30 – meaning the certificate was certified before it was issued. That stamp bears the signature of a Reverend G. Mukonoweshuro, a registered marriage officer.
But perhaps more damagingly, a statement from the West End Hospital’s general manager Margaret Maulana indicates that Chademana, who died on August 28, was admitted on August 16 suffering from gastroenteritis, meningitis and anaemia.
Yet by the time of his death, according to the death certificate, his previous illnesses had been replaced by disseminated tuberculosis, pneumonia, retroviral infection (HIV) and cardiorespiratory arrest, which would be the main cause of death.
Both Gono, 51, and First Lady Grace, 45, have declined to go on the record denying the alleged affair. Instead, their advisers have been leading the off-the-record briefings, dismissing the Sunday Times story as a “mendacious hatchet job which should never have been published”.
The Sunday Times’ story has been heavily discredited, not least because it claimed Chademana had been killed to avoid leaks after he overheard Mugabe’s dying sister, Sabina, tell him on July 26 that his wife was cheating on him with Gono.
It has since been established that the said conversation, which purportedly took place between 6 and 7PM on that day, could not have happened because Sabina Mugabe, who died on July 29, was already in a coma; Mugabe was attending an African Union summit in Uganda and Chademana had been discharged from the President's security due to poor health.
But the latest shoddy job at fighting back against the Sunday Times claims will backfire for both Grace Mugabe and Gono, who may now be edged closer to legal action to disprove the story.
One New Zimbabwe.com reader said: “The Sunday Times story has more holes in it than Swiss Emmentaler cheese, but goodness, Chademana's death certificate has more holes in it than a Kariba fisherman's net!"