Zuma’s former wife and preferred successor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said that Grace Mugabe must answer before the law – but if it had come to that, Grace Mugabe’s own sons would have had to testify in the case.
The embarrassment and mileage in the cross-examination would have been profound, and even in Zimbabwe, it would have made her permanently unelectable.
Grace Mugabe escaped that particular humiliation – but where she previously seemed temporarily reconciled to biding her time, she may now have no choice.
Set against a severe economic meltdown, of course, this all looks like soap opera.
As things stand, the country’s greatest accomplishment is its pretence of relative normality in a time of deep crisis.
Zimbabwe is highly dependent on imports, including for food.
There is no liquidity; a parallel market has developed between the US dollar (widely used in cash form) and the Zimbabwean central bank’s bond notes, and the Zimbabwean currency is increasingly at a disadvantage.
Despite the introduction of bond notes, more and more electronic money transfers are denominated in dollars.
If all those electronic dollars can’t be backed up on demand with physical dollars, that will create a dangerous bubble.
As soon as a large company seeks to reclaim its electronic dollar deposits but is given only bond notes, the game will be up.
And ultimately, Zimbabwe needs to service its gargantuan debts in dollars: if those dollars run out, prices will rise, raising the prospect of severe food shortages.
What will the nonagenarian president say on the campaign trail?
Will he really try and convince people he can print bonds faster than they lose value?
Can he really keep blaming the West for wrecking his own economy?
He may be counting on the fractious, chaotic opposition to fall apart – but the economy could still make retaining legitimacy harder than ever.
By Stephen Chan. This article was first published by The Conversation