By Lloyd Msipa
“Pandinodzoka kubva ku conference, ndoda kuwana mai ava vaenda kujere’ was the instruction left to ZACC Chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo by Vice President Retired General Chiwenga.
He essentially instructed a constitutional body, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to arrest his estranged wife Mary Mubaiwa- Chiwenga for alleged corruption and a raft of other allegations which include attempted murder. He instructed a constitutional body, an independent institution to become embroiled in a matrimonial dispute.
What are the issues?
In the indictment papers, Mary Chiwenga amongst other charges is being accused of illegally externalising in excess of one million US dollars to South Africa.
The State has lined up her former aides as witnesses to this crime. She has also been remanded in custody on further charges which include attempted murder. What are the issues? What are the questions that we are supposed to be asking as Zimbabweans?
One, where did she get one million US dollars to externalise? How did she manage to externalise such large amounts of money, what does that say about our institutions?
What does that say about Zimra at the airport? What does that say about the Reserve Bank? What does that say about our laws as a country? Is the law for the poor and less influential? What about operation ‘mari wakaiwana kupi’.
The law in Zimbabwe only allows you to leave with a maximum of four thousand eight hundred in forex, or thereabouts. How is it that others can exit with one million dollars?
What happened to austerity for prosperity? Is it austerity for others whilst we tell the rest of the citizens ‘sungayi dzisimbe’ vision 2030.blah blah blah.
Corruption and abuse of Office
One of the issues brought up in the indictment papers is that Mary Chiwenga caused the courts to issue a divorce order (Decree absolute) to her ex-husband and we hear of a High Court Judge facilitating the issuing of a marriage certificate between Mary Chiwenga and General Chiwenga.
When a whole vice president orders the might of the State and an independent Constitutional body to take sides in a matrimonial dispute something is fundamentally wrong with our country.
When the second most powerful man in the country chooses to break with impunity national laws put in place to protect women and children and there is no outcry from Zimbabweans, something has gone fundamentally wrong with our nation.
Mary Chiwenga had her children taken away from her in violation of the children’s act which stipulates that children under the age of 18 belong with their mother unless a competent Court rules otherwise.
Deafening Silence from feminists
There is something fundamentally wrong when feminists known for condemning women rights violations are silent on this issue. Where is Priscilla Misihairabwi? Where are the Fadzayi Mahere’s of this world? Why is everyone so afraid to speak.
Mary Chiwenga struck a lonely figure today when she appeared for her initial remand. The only person there for her was Amai, her mother. The only woman who felt the pain of birth. Vamira nemwana wavo. Does it matter that she was/is the General’s wife?
Are rights not meant to be rights no matter who the person is. Whats wrong is wrong, what’s right is right. Is it not that Mary Chiwenga’s crime is telling her relatives of the woes of her marriage? On behalf of women out there, it is a crime to complain about the size of the anatomy of your man?
Women enjoy pulling each other down
Mary Chiwenga is the second-high profile woman to be arrested by ZACC (Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission) after Prisca Mupfumira. There has not been a high-profile man arrested by this ‘independent body’. Prisca Mupfumira is also accused of having externalised large amounts of money and alleged houses in the United Kingdom, South Africa and other places.
Before that we had Grace Mugabe, who is known for externalising large amounts of money. Everybody remembers the millions used to purchase the diamond ring.
So, the issue of externalisation of money is not new. The problem therefore lies with our institutions. What is exactly happening at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Is it really about Mary or is it that our institutions are weak?
Custom or Precedence
ZACC Chairperson Loice Matanda Moyo is a High Court judge who took an oath of office relating to impartiality and fairness. By getting the anti-corruption commission to take sides in a domestic dispute, what precedence does it set?
What happens tomorrow when she falls out with the Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo, her husband. Will it be okay when the same treatment is metered out to her?
Let’s take it a little further up. What will happen when Auxilia Mnangagwa, the First Lady falls out with her husband, will it be okay if President Mnangagwa uses independent institutions to settle domestic issues? The Children’s Act was enacted to protect women from having minor children snatched by their fathers.
Zimbabwe, we have a reputation of majoring on minors, the Mary Chiwenga issues exposes the contradictions in our country. The big man syndrome still rules the roost. Our institutions are weak and porous. The Mary Chiwenga saga exposes the deep-rooted corruption in the presidium.
It exposes how powerful men abuse women. Before the Mary Chiwenga issue, we had the Kembo Mohadi saga where power is used to punish women extra-judicially. Before that we had the Ignatius Chombo, matrimonial disputes, were power was also used to punish the weaker sex. If we are to progress as a nation, we need to begin to ask the hard questions.
We need to stop power being abused by building strong institutions. The Reserve Bank has played a significant role as a corruption enabler in all these cases. We need to draw the line somewhere as a nation. This saga has serious implications on how the country is perceived by investors.
What happens if there is an investor dispute, this is so scary for business. The irony in corruptly using an institution that is supposed to tackle corruption to settle personal score is missed. Zimbabweans needs strong institutions, not strong men. Zimbabwe needs leaders, not rulers.
Lloyd Msipa LLB (Hons) London UK; LLM (London UK)