Mambaras abound in Zim

BY MAGAISA IBENZI WARD 12, PARIRENYATWA HOSPITAL, HARARE - It would appear we have more mambaras out there than I used to think. The stress of living in Zimbabwe is driving more people nutters than ever before. Sadly, there is no room for them in here so they just carry on living outside. Rece

ntly we had the permanent secretary for Information, George Charamba, who is also Mugabe’s spokesman, having a go at the British and the Zimbabwean independent media for carrying Nasty Nick van Hoogstraten’s interview in which he boasted that he had lent our president US$10 million.

Instead of dealing with the substance of the report, poor old George took a pot shot at the messenger. The question remains: Did Mugabe borrow this money or not? Was George there when the deal did or did not happen? Van Hoogstraten, the one party, says he lent the money. Mugabe, the other party, is silent except for the fulminations of his official mouth-piece, who, it seems, was not privy to the alleged transaction.

For my part, I would rather believe Nasty Nick. I can’t believe he would have made up such an unlikely story. In fact, I’m prepared to bet my bottom Zimdollar – better make it ZD1 million – that money changed hands. Whether Mugabe correctly understood that it was a loan and not a donation is a moot point. My other bottom million says poor Nick will never see his money again. You would think a man of his wealth would not miss a paltry US$10 000. But apparently he is very meticulous about claiming payment of the smallest debt. I understand this week’s Observer has some really nasty details about the Mafia-style extent to which he goes to ensure that he gets his pound of flesh from wherever it is due.

George has also denied that Nick owns large tracts of land in Zimbabwe but the facts on the ground don’t bear him out. Van Hoogstraten was shown recently on British television, filmed on his Charter Estate in Zimbabwe, just outside Mvuma, complaining bitterly that his workers had demanded a salary increase. He told the television reporter that he had agreed to the increase but, in retaliation, he had cut the workers’ meat rations – leaving them worse off than before.

The Observer interview, however, reveals that he has just given his senior workers each a Seiko watch for Christmas worth 4 Pounds each. I wonder how many steaks a Seiko watch would buy in Zimbabwe today?

In another interview, Nick revealed his surprising ambition to be president of Zimbabwe, saying many black Zimbabweans had told him they would like him to be president. Van Hoogstraten needs to be warned that anybody who has ever expressed such a desire has been dealt with most decisively.

Edson Zvobgo, one of Zimbabwe’s finest legal minds, started thinking of maybe becoming president one day and he was demoted, reviled, and sacked from the cabinet – just for thinking about it. More recently, Emmerson Mnangagwa found out the hard way that even if your friends ‘think’ you should be president – that is death knell of your political career. Our man Didymus Mutasa is one person who got the message very clearly and has said on several occasions that he only aspires to become vice-president one day, but nothing more. ‘Mugabe is president for life,’ he says – and very often lest there be any doubt.

Harare has recently seen an alarming sight. 22-year-old twins Tafadzwa and Tapiwanashe Fichiani recently returned home after spending two years in England and proceeded to parade around naked – save for strategic bits of goatskin to cover the naughty bits. Quit rightly, the ZRP swung into action and locked them up for indecent exposure. They are now out on bail but are threatening to do it again in pursuit of their ambition to promote authentic Africa lifestyles – whatever that means. They are also threatening to move out of their plush, parental home in leafy Mount Pleasant, where they have been refusing to sleep on western-style beds. The twins also refuse to eat meat – although it would seem they have no compunction about killing goats for their skins. Magaisa would love to inhale some of whatever it is they are smoking! Sure sounds as though it would beat the zhing-zhong tablets.

Like I’ve always said – there is no shortage of mad people in Zimbabwe. I just wish they were all in here and we were out there running the country.

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