Mugabe, Zulu kiss and make up

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and Lindiwe Zulu, a special adviser to South African President Jacob Zuma, have kissed and made up – literally!

Mugabe labelled Zulu “that persistent negative voice from South Africa” and “an idiotic woman” on the campaign trail after she appeared to criticise Zimbabwe’s election preparations.

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And after Zuma intervened and asked her not to issue unauthorised comments on Zimbabwe, Mugabe said he was glad she had “learnt to zip her mouth”.

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But at the close of the SADC summit in Lilongwe, Malawi, President Zuma picked a perfect opportunity to broker a cease-fire – and even he could not have expected the result.

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Zuma, with his reviled envoy in tow, crossed the room to where the Zimbabwe delegation sat chanting: “Zimbabwe, I want my bride price! Zimbabwe, I want my bride price!”

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Mugabe caught on fast, and as other regional leaders looked on in amazement, he pulled his “bride” close before planting a kiss on her cheek.

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Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete then stepped between Mugabe and his new “bride”, prompting the Zimbabwean leader to say: “How dare you stand between me and my new bride?”

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Mugabe then gently pushed Kikwete out of the way, and then kissed Zulu a second time. By now, the other heads of states and their delegations were in excited delirium.

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Zulu seemed to enjoy the moment with her unlikely groom, smiling broadly as everyone in the room got lost in the fun.

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The 89-year-old Zimbabwean leader, recently elected for a new sixth term, thanked Zuma for his mediation role in Zimbabwe following disputed elections in 2008 and insisted his attacks on Zulu came in the heat of election campaigning.

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“He is a patient man,” said President Mugabe. “He was handling a difficult matter and we Zimbabweans did not make matters easier. We were a very difficult customer to the facilitator — a temperamental one too.

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“I even shouted at one of his officers (Zulu). It’s not that I hate her or I sought to berate President Zuma through her. Quite to the contrary, I love her, something that can make many of you wonder given that I am 89 years old.”