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We have no inheritance in the Son of Matibiri

By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

By all accounts, King Solomon of Israel was a very rich man. So rich was he in fact that not only did kings come from far and wide to give him daughters for wives and any number of concubines, but he also built cities for said wives and concubines. Not small houses, cities. And at least one Queen made the pilgrimage to visit him, and a certain African dynasty claims its origins to this visit. 

Former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student leader turned lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
Former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student leader and lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

In fact, historians and the bible both agree on Solomon’s riches. We are told by the good book that his cutlery and drinking cups were made of pure gold: and not one was made of silver, for silver was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon. This was after all the king who made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem. 

This wealth did not come from trees. Many kings did pay tribute, but in addition, people were worked to the bone under King Solomon. The great infrastructure projects of the day: building the temple, building palaces, building chariots and building cities for the king’s harem all took a heavy toll on the populace. So heavy that many, such as Noah Manyika, sorry Jeroboam the First fled Israel and went into the diaspora. In the Israel of those days, going to the diaspora meant going to Africa. Abraham, Jacob, Jesus, all went to Africa as refugees.

When Solomon died, his son was presented with a problem. The people wanted to know if he would lessen their burden or carry on the policies of his father. Rather than heed the wise words of the SADC troika (sorry, the wise men), Rehoboam decided to inform the people that he would be firmer and stricter than his father, to which the people replied that enough was enough and 10 tribes left to go with Jeroboam the First, who had come back from the diaspora. Just as Makandiwa has prophesied that the next leader for Zimbabwe would come from the diaspora, the prophet Nathan had identified diaspora based Jeroboam as the one.

About their leaving, we are told that: 

Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying: “What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Now, see to your own house, O David!” So Israel departed to their tents. (1 Kings 12:16)

Gold is not as common as stones in Harare, but we know that at one point, diamonds were so common in Marange that De Beers spent years sending truckloads of dirt to South Africa for ‘testing’, and that many villagers were scooping them by the handful before the army moved in and took up residence. And no-one is going to suggest that our President is a modern day Solomon, despite the fact that he did marry his concubine and rather than build her a city, bought her a $1.3m diamond ring (odd, why buy a diamond from a Lebanese guy when we have them kumapostori kuBocha kwaMarange uko? Just wondering)

You could pay 4,300 people a salary of $300 each on how much that diamond ring cost. Just in case you were wondering. 

Fresh on the heels of the news about the 4,300-salaries diamond came the news that teachers are going to be paid on 28 December 2016, three days after Christmas. As someone who grew up counting on a teacher’s salary to pay for the flour yokubikisa ma fatcook paChristmas nepa Nyuweri, I hesitate to imagine what present day children of teachers must be feeling about this news. 

Clearly, teachers have no inheritance in the house of Matibiri. To your shacks and hovels then, teachers. 

What is insidious about this news though, is not the date. Rather, it is the accompanying news that as usual, the police, the army and the airforce will be paid on time, on 21 December 2016. 

Like I once said in these columns, there is method to this madness. The security services are paid first because they have the power to remove the cancer at the heart of the nation and bring about change. Those paying them know this, and seek to pacify them with this bribe. Method.

But, there is an even more chillingly sinister reason for paying them first. The government fully expects that the people might decide that enough is enough and say “we have no inheritance in the house of Matibiri”. Were that to happen, the army would be required to stand in between a frustrated and hungry populace with the nerve to demand their pay on the one hand and the government on the other. A certain minister from Masvingo has already promised more of what happened in 2008 at the hands of the army.

So they need the army on their side. And they will act like they are staggering pay dates to share the pain yet we know what is happening: while we all have no inheritance in the house of Matibiri, our army is being bribed.

The sad thing is that those being bribed in this manner have themselves no inheritance in the house of Matibiri.

Being paid a meagre salary in a phantom currency that cannot buy the things you like is not a just reward for a good job well done, but is confirmation that you too have no inheritance in the house of Matibiri. Being paid in Bond notes that you cannot send to your child in South Africa to buy you essential supplies whose importation has been banned is not sharing in any inheritance in the house of Matibiri.

Being paid a salary in order than you might be get drunk or disinterested in justice and therefore agree to go after civilians demanding their pay is not a favour, but confirmation that you too have no inheritance in the house of Matibiri.

It is evidence that you are  being bribed to preserve the status quo. To keep your neighbours down. To make sure that things never change. To use wood and parafin for power in a country that can afford to pay a person $1,6m  a month to be second in command in a loss making airline just because he married the daughter of Matibiri. His inheritance in the house of Matibiri came much earlier and will keep coming.

Being paid early is not proof of an inheritance in the house of Matibiri. It is to bribe you into finding nothing wrong with children (some of them your own) not going to school becauae they do not have $50 for school fees in a country where the world’s poorest president can afford to buy an anniversary gift for his wife for $1,3m. 

Being paid early should not cover the fact that the nation you are sworn to defend is not fighting for its weakest. Being paid early should not be confused with an inhetitance in the house of Matibiri, because we know that the Lord endowed us with many riches and it should be possible for us all to share in the bequest.

There must never be a resort to violence to address our problems. But the problems must be addressed.

Therefore, one does hope that when orders come to shoot on protestors, when orders come to rape, torture and kill fellow citizens, when orders come to suppress dissent by force, that the security services recall that while they are being paid early, they too in fact have no inheritance in the house of Matibiri. That they too suffer perennial power cuts. That they too drink water co-meangled with raw sewage because we have failed to upgrade our water reticulation facilities. That they too have to send their children to schools with no teachers because most left to go and find something to sell. That their family members aren’t all soldiers, and are suffering with the rest. That according to our people, he who eats vamwe vakatarira vachimuminyira mate anodzipwa.

One sincerely prays that a day comes when our army learns that while they are being paid early now, there will come a time when the dictator will be unable to rig things in order to do even that. That you can rig elections but not the economy. That they too have no inheritance in the house of Matibiri because they too have no working clinics or hospitals since mari iri kuperera mukuindisa little FarEast Singapore Chikore ku baby clinic kusingapore.

I pray that the army realises that as long as Ministers’ children are caught smuggling diamonds and cash out of the country, being paid early will never equate to an inheritance in the house of Matibiri. That they cannot possibly have an inheritance in the house of Matibiri when, just days after we read that the IMF and Standard Chartered have given them money, the government is broke again. Yakaindepi mari iyoyo.

Like l said, there is method to this madness. When the Israelites broke with Rehoboam, they invited Jeroboam the First to rule over them and the nation split in two. Those picking and choosing who to pay first are following the age-old method of divide and conquer. They want to split loyalties, and create one group that they will convince they will always look out for. A people divided cannot stand together with their combined strength. Method.

And they hope that while we ogle each other with envy on Christmas day tichitarira kudzimba dzemasoja tichiti “zvavo”, our anger gets misdirected towards those that got paid early. We must resist this temptation. It is not the soldiers’ fault that they are being used in this manner. Our task is to still count them as fellow victims of our collective  disinheritance from the house of Matibiri.

One prays that those who are being paid early also realise that we should stand together in solidarity. And that they recall that when Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite of the house of Saul intent on reclaiming the kingdom for that house, incited the nation of Israel to ask about an inheritance in the house of Jesse, King David refused to counternance division or blame those incited by Sheba. Instead, he identified Sheba as the cause of the problem and dealt with him, preserving the nation.

We do not have  a David running our nation today, but we know his inheritance to Solomon was a united nation. That is the inheritance we must demand from the house of Matibiri. That is why we must resist this effort at dividing us and see these machinations as nothing but the works of our present day Sheba, intent on sowing division in order to preserve a dynasty that has outlived its welcome.

The army is not at fault for being paid early. They are as much victims of the collective disinheritance as everyone else. Shun envy and feel sorry for them, and stand together when the day comes to demand that which is ours.

Now, no-one would ever ask the army to refuse their pay. And definitely, no-one can or should ever incite the security services to strike or mutiny, because that would be a capital crime. It would also be setting us on a very dangerous and slippery slope towards government change by coup d’etat. Noone wants that.

But what one does hope for is that the army realises that being paid before others is no reason to agree to be used to suppress the masses as Minister Hungwe has suggested. Being paid earlier than others is not a favour, since what is being paid is owed anyhow.

And most definitely, just because one is paid in time while others aren’t it does not justify preventing the process of change by defending  Rehoboam from the people’s legitimate demands. Because one thing is certain, those paid early and those paid late share one immutable fact. We have no inheritance in the house of Matibiri.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a UK based lawyer and prominent former student leader at the University of Zimbabwe