Recent reports about a Shantel Chikafu – who audaciously managed to defraud a seemingly reputable financial institution, CBZ Bank, of US$37,000; whilst, similarly grabbing a Shamva gold mine from one John Maungwa, under the pretext of being Zimbabwe president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s daughter – raises very disturbing questions over the respect of the rule of law in the country, as well as, just how fearful Zimbabweans are of the ruling elite, such that they are willing to engage in the most corrupt, underhand, and despicable deeds under the face of the sun.
If that were not the case, then, why would I, for instance – had I been a senior official in a public or private enterprise – agree to embark in some clearly dastardly and unlawful activities, merely because a wife, husband, son, daughter, relative, friend, of the president (or, any other high ranking government elite) had ordered me to do so?
Would that not expose a deep-seated shameless rot, not only within the government, but also the width and breadth of the country itself?
Is this not the highest form of moral decadence?
Honestly, the constitution and laws of this country are very clear as regards the limitations of the powers and authority of the president, and other fellow top government officials – such that, why on earth would anyone obey a directive that is obviously unprocedural and illegal?
Fear? Corruption? Or, both?
My mind is brought back to the days of the then First Lady, Grace Mugabe, whose brazen shenanigans in abusing her marriage to the head of state – as she wildly insulted, threatened, and even reportedly sacked, several senior government officials, whilst at the same time, managing to grab any land, property, and possessions that she lusted over – surpassed every boundary of sound reasoning.
In fact, one of those affected by Grace’s antics, the then war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, was understood to have angrily said, “Power was not sexually transmitted”.
This is the most packed and truthful statement I have ever heard in decades, as it summarized one of the gravest maladies to affect this great country of Zimbabwe – and, with what we have been witnessing of late in this so-called ‘Second Republic’, I can add to that, and say, “Power is not sexually transmitted, neither is it blood transfused”.
It really does not matter whether this Shantel Chikafu character was lying that Mnangagwa was her father, or not – but, the question that requires urgent answers is, why senior officials at CBZ Bank, and the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZNPWA), who are reported to have authorized the Shamva gold mine debacle, felt it prudent to obey an unlawful directive from the ‘president’s daughter’.
What makes me even more afraid of, is the direction this country is headed – as if, we were not already in a precarious position – is the thought that, if those genuinely, or falsely, aligned to the president (and, others in the ruling elite) can demand ‘John’s head on a silver platter’, and have their wishes freely granted; what are we to expect, if these illegal demands where made by those very senior government officials themselves?
For instance, this could mean that they can easily call the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, ordering him to avail US$1 million, in cash, for some shopping spree in South Africa – and, actually be given, without any hassles.
This also means that, this same ruling clique can demand some diamonds from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), and get them.
Or, they can command that a judicial officer pronounces a particular verdict in a case before the courts, which would be favorable to the top official, and have their wishes granted.
This should paint a truly worrisome picture of the situation in our country, as it is quite clear that the rule of law, constitutionalism, and democracy have been brutally sacrificed, at the alter of patronage, fear, and corruption.
There is no way we can ever claim to be any different from the “off with his head” stories we studied in history, of the ancient monarchies – whereby, the word of one man, or woman, was law, and could send someone to the gallows, without so much as a trial…and, of course, this ‘power and authority’ extending to any other close relatives and friends.
Has Zimbabwe genuinely progressed and matured into a democracy, or have our rulers (unfortunately, referring to them as ‘leaders’ would be a serious bastardization of this respectable word) taken us back to the dark medieval ages?
This case of Shantel should not be merely looked at from a standpoint of someone who ‘abused the president’s name’, but rather, how Zimbabwe reached this point, whereby people entrusted with presiding over our nation, can be believed to possess such unlimited powers and authority to dictate anything to anyone.
That is the gravest and most dangerous challenge we are faced with as a country.
Once a country reaches a place where citizens actually believe that the president’s son, for example, has the power and authority to order them off their land, or out of their homes, then we are doomed as a civilized society.
When someone can simply enter a reputable bank, and easily defraud them of US$37,000 – purely on the basis that she is the president’s daughter – then, we have no future as a nation.
When a person can demand, and be given, any piece of land in the country – under the pretext of being related to the president – then, how far are we from becoming a fully fledged Banana Republic?
In fact, who needs to be held more accountable here – the person who ‘abused the president’s name’, or those who obeyed such unlawful commands, or the system that allows the powerful to run the country as if it was their own little backyard tuck-shop?
I believe the last one should be our main concern, as clearly our country has gone to the dogs!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.