The offspring of Africa’s strongmen are living it up

THE Mugabe brothers are having a night out again. Here they are showing off their outfits: distressed white denim, high-top sneakers, statement sunglasses.

Now they’re in a VIP booth at a club, swaying and swigging from bottles of Moët & Chandon while the music pumps. At some point they will post a flame emoji, indicating that the evening is “lit”.

Like many millennials, Robert Mugabe junior and Bellarmine, his younger brother, shamelessly chronicle their days (and late nights) on Instagram, a social-media site for sharing pictures. Uniquely, however, their 93-year-old father is the president of Zimbabwe.

The steady stream of photos and videos they post offers an unusual and oddly intimate window into their privileged personal lives. Lately the two brothers appear to be spending much of their time in Johannesburg.

Life is more “lit” there than back home in Zimbabwe, where their father has ruined the economy.

The Mugabe brothers are not the only scions of African strongmen who are tactless about what they share on social media. Lawrence Lual Malong Yor junior, the stepson of a South Sudanese general, documents his love of luxury on Facebook with photos of himself flying first-class and getting hot-stone massages. One video shows him lying in a pile of US$100 bills (which he claims make up US$1m that he will donate to charity).

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea (and coincidently also the vice-president) posts photos of himself luxuriating in private jets, posing behind the wheels of fancy cars, at parties and on exotic foreign trips.

A photo from his recent 1920s-themed birthday bash shows a woman jumping out of a giant cake. He appears undeterred by his trial in France, where he is accused of embezzling more than $100m from public funds and spending it on his high-flying lifestyle. Mr Obiang claimed that he has immunity from prosecution. A verdict is expected in October.

The active social lives of the two youngest Mugabe brothers have not gone unnoticed back home. The People’s Democratic Party, which is led by a former finance minister, Tendai Biti, has accused them of “spending taxpayers’ money like confetti”.

Despots’ brats do not only use social media for boasting. Robert Mugabe junior’s Instagram account has, at times, provided helpful updates on the health of his father, a matter of national importance given the president’s faltering grip on power.

On one occasion the younger Mr Mugabe kindly informed the world that the nonagenarian was “healthy and alive…so all the haters can RIP.”-The Economist

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline “Lots not to like”

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