Jocelyn Chiwenga: What Goes Around …
By Dr Alex T Magaisa
The woman that you see in this picture, hands on her hips, looking rather bemused and frustrated is called Jocelyn Chiwenga.
She was, until recently, the General’s wife, having been married to the Commander of the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe. His name is General Constantine Chiwenga. They recently went their separate ways after a protracted battle in the divorce courts. Eventually, they agreed that their union had broken down irretrievably but it took some time for the court to divide their substantial estate.
It is this circumstance that is the cause of her hopeless and helpless demeanour that is apparent in this picture. With her, but on the other side of the barrier, are two soldiers of the Zimbabwe National Army, which her erstwhile husband commands. The accompanying story is that they have barred her, under instructions from their boss, from accessing the property, a farm in Goromonzi.
“You are not welcome here, madam,” the soldiers are quoted as having said. But she protested.
“I am Mrs Chiwenga and I am the owner of this farm. Why are you denying me my right to get into my farm? It’s unfair how you are treating me. I understand you are doing your job, but this is cruel. Can you do that to your mother?” she is quoted as having responded.
Very pitiful and one is tempted to feel sorry for her.
But then you recall the ugly background. And you think twice. Three times. Maybe more.
It was just a few years ago, when she was enjoying a more glorious, powerful and privileged patch. Then, Jocelyn Chiwenga, the General’s wife, was virtually a law unto herself. Back in the village, elders would have said ‘aiita madiro aJojina’, that is to say, she did as she pleased and with impunity.
On one infamous occasion she accosted Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition party, the MDC and threatened to castrate him. “Today, I want to remove your manhood,” she is alleged to have said, charging at Tsvangirai at a Harare wholesaler. Award-winning journalist, Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi was caught up in that furore and allegedly slapped by Jocelyn. He was merely doing his job.
In 2002, when a white farmer was evicted from his farm just outside Harare she is quoted as having said to him, “I have not tasted white blood for twenty years”. Menacing. The farmer was thrown out without ceremony. We are not sure if this is the same farm at the centre of the latest furore but if it is, it is ironic that she is now being evicted in this manner and worse, that she is alleging cruelty.
It must have been in 2003, when she assaulted Gugu Moyo, a friend and a lawyer for the Daily News, an independent daily newspaper. “Your paper wants to encourage anarchy in this country,” Jocelyn is alleged to have yelled at Gugu.
This is the same Jocelyn, maCdes, whom you see looking helpless and frustrated in that picture. With her track-record of violent conduct, vanity and abuse of power, this is her, devoid of power and looking rather pitiful.
She is not singing anymore. There is no more supper to sing for. She is on the other side, the side of those who have no power, the side of those who, regularly and without recourse, suffer the arrogance of power.
I have a few comrades who have crossed, who now sing and scream, perhaps not yet to the same volume levels as Jocelyn in her heydays, but they sing and scream nevertheless. There are those who sing and scream and get angry on behalf of the powerful, just like Jocelyn used to do. I have seen them do and write strange things. It is their choice, a choice whose consequences they must live with. But I hope they read and understand Jocelyn’s story.
She was once a powerful individual, this woman. She could do as she pleased. She was in the feeding trough, not far away hoping for crumbs like many of the minions whom we we see getting angry on behalf of power. Now she is with us, the people. Without power. Without hope. Helpless.
One is tempted to feel sorry. Then the other temptation is to say Tsvatu waro – you got your just desserts. But we are human and we abhor abuse of power. Even against those that we despise and disgree with.
The only thing we can say is, think carefully, maCdes before you abuse others in the name of power or defending power, because these things have a habit of catching up. Think carefully, before you get angry on behalf of other men.
Because you see, to use that old and tired cliche, what goes around, has a habit of coming around.
Dr Alex T Magaisa studied law at the University of Zimbabwe (LLB) and the University of Warwick (LLM & PhD) in Great Britain. He is a former adviser to the then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Dr Magaisa has worked at the University Warwick, the University of Nottingham and is presently based at Kent Law School, the University of Kent.
You can visit his blog: NewZimbabweConstitution.wordpress.com