Grace Mugabe – who is 41 years younger than Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old former president – spent five years cuckolding him with Gideon Gono, former head of the country’s central bank.
The couple would meet as often as three times a month either at her dairy farm or in expensive hotels in neighbouring South Africa.
Mugabe finally found out about the affair when his sister Sabina revealed the scandal on her deathbed, it was reported.
Since then his most-trusted bodyguard Cain Chademana – who is said to have told the furious president that he knew of the affair but thought it best to keep quiet – lost his life amid suspicions that he was poisoned.
It is not the first time Mrs. Mugabe, who is widely reviled inside Zimbabwe for her lavish tastes and expensive shopping sprees, has conducted affairs behind her husband’s back.
One former lover, Peter Pamire, died in a mysterious car accident. Another, James Makamba, fled the country.
Gono has known Mrs. Mugabe, who married the president in 1996, for at least 15 years and they are partners in a number of business enterprises.
He is a pillar of the Zanu PF party that has held on to power in Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain.
As one of Mugabe’s most trusted friends, he has served since 2003 as head of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe – a period that saw the country’s currency suffer hyperinflation of more than a billion percent a year.
While many of Zimbabwe’s desperately poor people struggle to find enough food to eat, Gono lives in a 47-bedroom mansion with swimming pool, gym, and its own mini theatre.
Yesterday a source close to the banker confirmed that he and the first lady were lovers and claimed they had planned a life together after Mugabe’s death.
The senior official in Gono’s office told South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper: ‘Mugabe trusted Gono. He even thought our boss was taking care of the first lady, keeping a protective eye on her so that she could not again be adulterous.’
Mugabe’s relationship with Grace, his former secretary, is itself founded on infidelity.
Two of their three children were born when Mugabe was still married to his popular first wife, Sally, who was battling a kidney disease from which she died in 1992.