, HONG KONG, Nov 16 – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe attended his daughter’s graduation in Hong Kong, the southern Chinese city which is outside Western-imposed travel bans, a university spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The veteran leader who is accused of widespread human rights abuses in his country reportedly thanked the Hong Kong authorities for protecting Bona Mugabe, 22, from the media spotlight during her studies.
Bona, who has lived in Hong Kong for more than three years, received a Bachelor in Business Administration with honours in accountancy at City University, spokeswoman Karen Cheng told AFP.
Cheng said Mugabe, 87, attended the ceremony on Tuesday with a group of about 20 people including his wife, Grace.
“They were taking photos among themselves, not with the other students,” she said.
The Mugabe group “drew some attention” but most of the other parents did not realise who they were, she added.
Zimbabwean media reported that the president praised Hong Kong authorities for keeping journalists away from his daughter, according to the South China Morning Post.
Bona’s bodyguards twice assaulted reporters outside her Hong Kong home in 2009 but no action was taken against them.
Last year Mugabe reportedly spent a weekend shopping for high-end suits and shoes in Hong Kong, where he also owns a house.
Hong Kong police gave the Zimbabwean protection as he visited luxury shops in the city’s Kowloon district.
China is not party to international sanctions on Mugabe, who is the subject of a Western travel ban and asset freeze.
Grace Mugabe sparked a diplomatic row last year when she escaped assault charges after allegedly striking a British photographer as he took her picture during a Hong Kong shopping trip.
Hong Kong’s justice department said she was entitled to diplomatic immunity.
Mugabe has previously thanked China for its support in helping his nation rebuild its shattered economy, especially with the supply of agricultural materials and food assistance.
Once a breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe has suffered food shortages due to drought and Mugabe’s crippling land-reform programme.
Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, also makes regular visits to Singapore, reportedly for medical treatment.
According to the WikiLeaks whistleblower website, Mugabe has prostate cancer which has metastasized and he may only have a couple of years to live. He has denied the reports.