By Professor Ken Mufuka
Often, when I open my email, a Zimbabwean on the other side says to me; “Ken, you must write. The chefs read your column. It may knock some sense into these dunderheads.”
The case before me today is the persecution of Sister Marry Chiwenga, the estranged wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga. My brief is that her treatment at the hands of the law enforcement agencies has shown a heavy handedness which is disproportionate to the case.
As such, natural justice usually tilts towards the under-dog, even if that under-dog may have provoked the onslaught by playing above her status. The case shows ZANU-PF at its worst, merciless, unforgiving, and completely devoid of human sensibilities.
I objected to the barbaric way in which former vice president, Ms. Joice Mujuru was treated at the hands of Grace Mugabe. The fact that such barbaric treatment of perceived opponents can be treated with such barbarism bodes ill for all of us.
Reader, do not rejoice; such a calamity can happen to you as well. I think this is the moral. If they can do that to their own, how far will they go with us, mere citizens?
I remind our readers; Sister Marry is not guilty of any crime, until a judge says so.
My objection is based on the truism that if one over plays their hand, the issue at hand is overshadowed by drama and the victor soon loses all credibility and trust.
It is a simple common sense lesson. Mujuru had been at the side of former President Robert Mugabe for 40 years. Then one day Mugabe and his wife accused Ms. Joice of witchcraft, and keeping 11 frogs in a “witch-pot.”
It reflects badly not on Ms. Joice but on the Jezebel Ms. Grace and her husband King Ahab. There are numerous examples of how powerful men should behave when their superior powers to destroy are all too obvious.
When Joseph (Matthew 1:19), Mary’s husband, found out that she was pregnant, “being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately.”
Brother Vice President Chiwenga has the power to destroy Mary Chiwenga’s life (his estranged wife) but surely having been married for ten years, her memory cannot be removed from his plate forever. In the Merchant of Venice, Shylock had the power to kill Bassanio, if he received his pound of flesh.
But Attorney Portia pleads for a more excellent way.
“The quality of mercy is not strained
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
The persecution of Sister Mary brings ill-repute to the Zimbabwe government in the same way that witchcraft accusations against Ms. Joice did.
Here is a summary of the issues.
Sister Mary is accused of money laundering to the tune of U$1 03 00 and externalization of money to the tune of U$990 00. In one case she is supposed to have ordered window curtains to the tune of over U$330 000. Who is the fool at the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe who did not advise his customer of the suspicious nature of such a request?
The charges, even to a non-legal mind appear to have been cobbled up in a hurry.
Justice must be squeaky clean or it is no justice at all.
It appears that when arresting Sister Mary, there was no clear authority by way of a warrant from a judge. Whether she was cautioned and warned is also in dispute.
Why she is in a jailhouse beyond Christmas when she has no means of escaping from the country remains a mystery, other than the wish for revenge on the part of her accusers.
Secondly, Sister Mary is accused of buying a house in South Africa. Either the house is an investment, or is premeditated attempt to create a hide-out in case the fluid situation in Zimbabwe explodes.
Every Zimbabwe with any sense hides his (her) money under a pillow in U$ denominations or makes deposits in neighboring countries. That is a reflection of the fluidity of the Zimbabwe political matrix.
There is a further ill reflection on the Brother Vice President himself. The origin of such large sums of money is suspicious. If the worst came to the worst, and it all came to shaisano (Greek tragedy where no one survives) the Sister can claim that she was acting on the husband’s behalf. She has no credible source of revenue apart from that which is allowed her by her husband.
This is a messy affair.
The accusation that the Sister tried to kill her husband was concocted by Chiwenga’s relatives who are jealous of Sister Mary and who do not wish her to inherit their father’s wealth. In any case, a man of Chiwenga’s lofty position is never alone even when he is asleep.
I am certain Attorney Beatrice Mtetwa will make mincemeat out of these charges.
The charge that Sister Mary fraudulently tried to acquire a marriage certificate without her husband’s consent is equally nonsensical. This is my information. The Sister sought advice from the highest legal authority in the land as the Judge President has testified in an affidavit. I have before me the Marriage Act of Zimbabwe. Under what is generally referred to as chapter V, there are six stipulations, numerals 1-6. Numerals 3-6 give the power of certifying a marriage to the magistrate, if after the magistrate has satisfied herself (himself) by interviewing the “parties” that there is nothing to impede the marriage, he will give his consent. Item (6) states categorically that if, after interviewing the parties, the magistrate is not satisfied, he shall refuse consent to proceed.
If Brother Chiwenga was not one of the “parties” the person who spoke on his behalf may have committed an offense. Sister Mary, being ignorant of the learned phrases of the law, was ill-advised. Similarly, the judge (judges never do any wrong) in his zeal to show compassion to a woman in distress, misadvised himself.
Because ZANU-F officionados have sway over society, they have failed to realize that the advent of Internet, social media and email can overwhelm the party line propagated by the Sunday Mail and state owned media.
Even in the US where once the New York Times (NYT) and Washington Post (WP) were the papers of record and the second one the messenger with a conscience have been by-passed in the Trump world by Twitter and YouTube medias.
The power of the Zimbabwe state, if it is seen to bull-doze a sorry woman into a jailhouse for the crime of playing above her station, will find that public opinion is somewhere else.
If the candidate can pass that mock defense, then he is ready for the official presentation. I have given you a fair warning. When Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa is finished with the Brother Vice President, I cannot guarantee that Zimbabwe itself will be spared from being a laughing stock. I can assure you that comedian Sister Gonyeti will laugh all the way to the bank.