Tanonoka Joseph Whande
September 20th, 2012.
I am most upset that, with Zimbabwe so burdened with so many bread and butter issues and problems, the attention of the nation has been forced to shift from Zimbabwe’s pressing issues to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s bedroom politics.
Our attention on national issues and priorities is being shifted elsewhere while we are made to talk about our bed-hopping Prime Minister whose love life is a soap opera, particularly in the state media.
The state media has had a field day with Tsvangirai’s nuptials while ZANU-PF and its wings in government and security agencies spent scarce national resources and time compiling useless romantic escapades of an individual at the expense of the nation.
ZANU-PF is a master at diverting attention from important issues, much as Archbishop Pius Ncube found out. The reason for that is simple: to divert attention from the disaster that is ZANU-PF.
It is called propaganda, “a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument”.
There is no doubt that Tsvangirai is a victim of such propaganda, churned out by ZANU-PF through state media.
As I snooped around for more information about this, I started getting mail from colleagues, commenting on this very issue and I got the impression that many people are not amused by what is happening.
“There is a saying that if you throw enough dirt, some of it is bound to stick. I think we can agree that there is a truck load heading in Tsvangirai’s direction recently,” said an insightful exiled colleague. ”There is a feeding frenzy taking place in the media being driven by ZANU-PF with lots of other media houses jumping on the band wagon.”
While I agree that propaganda is being churned out against Tsvangirai, I am worried that the old adage of “no smoke without fire” might actually become an albatross around Tsvangirai’s neck.
You see, I am very convinced that it is Tsvangirai himself who is fuelling the propaganda against himself…through his behaviour.
It is exactly three and half years since Mr Tsvangirai lost his wife in that unforgettable car accident in March 2009. But in those three and half years, Mr Tsvangirai has publicly been associated with Arikana Chihombori, a Zimbabwean doctor in the United States who allegedly turned out to be his niece, Loreta Nyathi, a young woman for whose child Tsvangirai pays maintenance, Locardia Karimatsenga, who was once reported to be carrying Tsvangirai’s twin babies, South Africa Nosipho Regina Shilubane and, now, Elizabeth Macheka.
On the periphery, also in Tsvangirai’s romantic scandals, is one Aquilina Kayidza Pamberi.
These are the six prominent ones who received some form of media coverage; they are not being denied although the details might not be as accurate or complete.
However, if we divide 6 into the three and half years since Mrs Susan Tsvangirai passed away, we find that Tsvangirai, based on these six known women, has since had an average of one different woman every 5 and half months.
And what about those we don’t know?
“We have heard of conspiracy theories here and there but these things are known to happen,” said Women’s Rights activist, Grace Mutandwa. “Yet surely, in the space of a year we have seen so many women that he has gone out with and abandoned. He now thinks that he is entitled to sleep around with women because he has power and money. It is disrespect towards women and he is setting the wrong example to society.”
On Saturday, Tsvangirai “broke the silence on his love life and justified his flirtation with several women, saying love was like a “human spirit which hovers over many individuals before it finally settles on its chosen medium”.
“Love is like a spirit medium,” Tsvangirai told delegates at his wedding, “it won’t just go and say I am here. It checks on how a person’s heart is, goes to the other and checks if the heart is strong until it settles.”
Spirit mediums do that, really?
Spirit mediums don’t come searching; they come directly to their chosen one and make things happen right then.
Hovering? What an excuse for promiscuous charade!
Was it necessary to put the nation through all that rigmarole over Locardia when Tsvangirai knew what he had tried to do and backed off after other people pointed out to him that ZANU-PF was behind all this? What support did he give to her when we were told that she had miscarried his twins she was carrying?
Whatever way we look at it, this is not the behaviour of someone who leads a political party, let alone the nation.
After inviting Heads of State and foreign dignitaries, not to mention local luminaries, “technicalities” got in the way.
But really, having “married” under customary law (is this what Robert Mugabe meant a few weeks ago about the need to recognise so-called “small houses”?), how could Mr Tsvangirai expect to marry someone under a “one women chapter of the law, thereby rendering the customary law wife a nullity in the eyes of the law without her being set free with dignity?
It was a sneaky thing to do and I do not believe Tsvangirai’s handlers advise him accordingly.
This is childish, dangerous and stupid.
And where does this leave the nation?
My colleague went on to say that, given the circumstances and timing in Zimbabwe’s history, the last thing the democratic movement needs right now are these types of easily avoided diversions.
“It is sabotaging the struggle for democracy at a time when Zimbabwe should be put first and everything else last,” he said, adding that Tsvangirai literally became a sitting duck the moment he left Harvest House and moved to the Prime Minister’s Office as part of this GNU.
As the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe national chairperson, Virginia Muwanigwa, said, the heart of the matter is that the fiasco playing out is only a miniscule manifestation of the challenges that women in the broader society face on a daily basis in the country.
She is right. And Tsvangirai is setting the unfortunate behaviour.
Mugabe has done his part in breaking up marriages and literally taking someone’s wife. Many of his ministers have several wives so Mugabe’s recent call for the recognition of the so-called small houses was tailor-made to placate and cover these practices.
But these men are our leaders. They cannot behave in a manner that we, including our pastors, discourage ourselves and our children from doing.
These politicians are not ordinary people; they are our leaders.
Muwanigwa rightly points out that this scenario has been brought out because Tsvangirai is a prominent person.
Leaders don’t behave that way.
This incites wrong priorities in the country because, as Muwanigwa says, we need to look at the bigger societal picture of the issues that women have been facing year in and year out, with regard to women’s rights in and out of marriage, dissolution of marriage and so on. These are the very issues that women have been fighting to address.
As my colleague mused, Tsvangirai should have known better, given that past history is littered with the carcasses of CIO sting operations.
He is already losing his shine and might find it difficult to convince Zimbabweans at the polls that he is a serious-minded person, let alone leader.
MDC-T party leaders must congregate and be serious with their flag bearer. Tsvangirai must not only be advised but made to listen to reason and to behave himself. “The party needs to urgently analyse the current and downside risks involved.”
It is most unfortunate that all our leaders appear unable to lead by example.
Unlike Dumiso Dabengwa’s utterances, I state that Tsvangirai’s behaviour is a national issue because he chose to ask us to allow him to lead the nation.
And why is Tsvangirai always after these ZANU-PF women? Well, I guess it is because Tsvangirai wants to do to the ZANU-PF women what Mugabe has been doing to the country…
Zimbabwe, however, deserves better.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, September 20th, 2012.