Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at State House in Harare, Nov. 19, 2017. Photo: AP

Since Robert Mugabe is a liberation icon, popular across Africa, his still-ruling ZANU-PF regime is trying to shift the blame for Zimbabwe’s ills from the recently deposed president to his wife, Grace. Former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa has represented his coup as an “intervention” against the “criminals” that surrounded Mugabe, and the impeachment charges against Mugabe included his failure to keep Grace and her associates under control, but no accusations of criminal behavior by him.

This political spin furthers a familiar contrast between the “wicked Grace” and the “Amai” (mother) narrative of Sally, Mugabe’s first wife, who was as popular as Grace is unpopular. According to ZANU-PF orthodoxy, Mugabe went off the rails only after Sally's death, so his loss of power can be attributed to Grace.

Ultimately, neither wife played much of a role in Mugabe's misgovernance of Zimbabwe, which began before Sally’s death. He was able to use Grace as a pawn because she posed less of a succession threat that any of the alternative candidates.

The bottom line: Mugabe’s tyranny was purely the product of his own ruthlessness and lust for control, and his removal from office the result of miscalculation and overreach.

Go deeper

4 mins ago - Podcasts

House antitrust chair talks USA vs. Google

The Justice Department filed a 63-page antitrust lawsuit against Google related to the tech giant's search and advertising business. This comes just weeks after the House subcommittee on antitrust issued its own scathing report on Google and other Big Tech companies, arguing they've become digital monopolies.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chair of the subcommittee on antitrust, about Google, the DOJ's lawsuit and Congress' next move.

16 mins ago - Economy & Business

Boeing research shows disinfectants kill coronavirus on airplanes

Electrostatic spraying of disinfectant. (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

Boeing and researchers at the University of Arizona say their experiment with a live virus on an unoccupied airplane proves that the cleaning methods currently used by airlines are effective in destroying the virus that causes COVID-19.

Why it matters: Deep cleaning aircraft between flights is one of many tactics the airline industry is using to try to restore public confidence in flying during the pandemic. The researchers say their study proves there is virtually no risk of transmission from touching objects including armrests, tray tables, overhead bins or lavatory handles on a plane.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: Studies show drop in COVID death rate — The next wave is gaining steam — The overwhelming aftershocks of the pandemic.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.