President Robert Mugabe’s only surviving sister, Bridgette, who has been in a coma since August 2010 has died. She was 79.
MOSES MATENGA,STAFF REPORTER
Bridgette — who was admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital since 2010 after collapsing during the burial of her elder sister, Sabina at the National Heroes’ Acre in Harare — died of heart failure.
Brigette caused a stir in 2010 when she was brought to the National Heroes’ Acre against the advice of other family members.
As news of the death of Mugabe’s sister filtered, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbassogo called off his two-day State visit to Zimbabwe. Nguema was due to arrive in the country this afternoon.
An official in Mugabe’s office told journalists: “He is no longer coming because of the funeral, but he was supposed to come this afternoon (yesterday).”
Mourners, among them Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Zanu PF secretary for administration and Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, service chiefs, friends and relatives yesterday gathered at State House to pay their condolences to Mugabe and his wife Grace.
Mugabe, whose health had become a subject for speculation since his return from Singapore last week, appeared well, relaxed and often cracked jokes.
Mugabe’s nephew Robert Zhuwao was the first to break the news of the death on the social media Twitter.
“Dark heavy clouds and my heart is bleeding. I have just lost my aunt Bridget Mugabe,” Zhuwao wrote.
According to a close family friend Roman Catholic cleric Fidelis Mukonori, Bridgette was a liberation fighter and might have been affected during a clash with the other forces during the liberation struggle.
“At one point, she was beaten while in the company of her late sister Sabina and she bled through the mouth. Sabina was very touched and angry and also fought back until they won. She would have spasms because of that incident and I think it contributed to her death,” Mukonori said.
“The Mugabe family suffered also from intraparty and interparty violence. Maybe she couldn’t get proper medication and at the Heroes’ Acre, she was affected probably by the noise from the soldiers as they carried the casket of Sabina. She just said ‘my sister’ and those were the last words I heard from her because I was closer.”
Bridgette collapsed and was rushed to hospital after receiving first aid from former Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare Edwin Muguti.
She was accompanied to hospital by businessman Philip Chiyangwa, a close Mugabe ,relative who had fought hard to calm her down after she had regained consciousness as she spoke on top of her voice trying to wrestle free from the medical team.
Last year, Mugabe urged Zimbabweans to pray for her as he said “she might be coming to the end of her life”.
Addressing mourners at the burial of former Mashonaland West Governor and Resident Minister Nelson Samukange in Zvimba, Mugabe said Bridgette was experiencing breathing problems.
It is understood that Mugabe cut short his annual leave after news of Bridgette’s deteriorating health.
Bridgette’s body will be taken to Zvimba today before burial tomorrow at Mugabe’s rural home.