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A tale of obedient sons


The parable of the prodigal son talks of a man who had two sons, who went to the first and asked him to go and work in the vineyard and the son bluntly refused to do so, but later changed his mind and did as his father had requested.

But, when the father went on to the second son and asked him to also go and work the vineyard, the son answered, “I will, father”, but he did not do what his father had asked.

The Testament goes on to ask which of the two sons pleased his father?

It is easy to dupe one’s “father”, with pretences of obedience, but what is important is the spiritual essence and substance of one’s obedience, that which one does, away from the “father’s” eyes and ears!

There is a holistic moral and spiritual substance to obedience.

It’s not about being smart enough to lie successfully and convincingly, on the face of it, like the son who affirmed that he would do his father’s bidding and work the vineyard, yet he did not!

There is also the story of Noah’s sons who, when their father had imbibed a bit more wine than usual, took to sleep, and the covers fell off, leaving him indecently exposed, whereupon some of his sons found this a moment for hilarity and amusement, while one of the sons, Ham, rushed to cover up the exposed patriarch.

Greedy and avid quislings are known to literally lick the feet of their handlers, to prolong their stay at the feeding trough .

They lick the ground on which their handlers walk.

Faithful service and following of a moral and righteous code is the universal essence of obedience and pleasing the “father” becomes incidental thereto.
One doesn’t even need to advertise to say they are obedient.

Both the Old and New Testament are replete with teachings that have to do with obedience and disobedience.

It was revealed recently in the ongoing Diamond Mining saga that Lovemore Kurotwi of Canadile, and others, that Mines minister Obert Mpofu had asked the young man to, in Mafia parlance, “wet his beak” if he wanted his deal to sail through.

Kurotwi is said to have spilled the beans to President Robert Mugabe and the alleged errand boy reportedly denied having solicited or asked Kurotwi for such.

Only a fool would admit, having done so.

President Mugabe, according to documents at hand, reportedly quizzed Kurotwi and ultimately saw no evil and heard no evil.

We don’t know whether or not Mpofu did, in fact, ask Kurotwi to put “butter on the bread”, to use a Portuguese expression.

Suffice to say, Mpofu is a very, very rich man, so we hear, and accounting for the massive empire we understand he has amassed, vis-à-vis his modest salary may present challenges, even if he says he borrowed $1 million from a bank, as he is said to have claimed, at some point, to explain his fortune.

And this applies to many of his colleagues!

Banks generally lend against one’s income.

How he came by his fortune, only he can tell.

Or the President can force him to bare his soul.

Reports of taking of cuts, bribes, back-hands or percentages in countries that do not have a policy on corruption, of which Zimbabwe is one, is a notorious fact.

The problem may lie in that, in a lot of cases, appointment to the post of minister has often been in reward for Samurai-type loyalty and unconditional subordination, rather than merit.

People who previously didn’t have two pennies to rub together, as it were, suddenly find themselves appointed ministers and the country becomes their oyster.

Insecurity and fear of losing office and influence and sliding back into the penury of ordinary civilian life triggers this instinct for primitive accumulation in these career ministers.

The media has written about corruption in the public sector and private sector many times, but there has been little or no response from those charged with the responsibility of dealing with it, perhaps because they cannot cast “the first stone”, for obvious reasons.

If I chaired an anti-corruption organ, I would have the easiest job.

I would simply ask these ministers to account for the vast empires they have amassed against a backdrop of “sanctions”, in circumstances where the masses have become all the more poorer.

Even a freshman in law school will tell you that where the evidence is overwhelming and the facts speak for themselves, the burden of proof shifts to the suspect. It’s common practice in jurisprudence.

But this article is not so much about corruption, which is endemic, anyway; it’s about “Obedient Sons”.

Why did Mpofu choose to sign-off his letter to the President in such un-business-like, flowery, flattering, grovelling and patronising language, if indeed he did, and what senses was he appealing to in the President?

We all know the President’s children, and I can boldly say there is no Obert among them.

This is certainly not the way to write a professional, official letter to your boss.

Where I come from, Murehwa, the moment one crawls on one’s belly like this, the bosses smell a rat and one comes under the microscope.

Is this how these civil servants operate? What constructive advice can they give the President from their belly-crawly position? What a pitiful and crying shame!

Funny how they raise their manes with pride and preen themselves, with tails high up in the air when the cat is away.

So they are mere “Obedient Sons”, in appropriate circumstances?

Why does the President accept that type of embarrassing and inappropriate language, assuming that he does?

Intrinsic in this grovelling and endearing language is an inference that there are other “Obedient Sons”, who are they?

At one time when Herbert Ushewokunze was fired, he obediently took his cane by saying that he was “the whipping boy”, instead of remonstrating. Now we have the “Obedient Sons”.

A few years ago when Dr Kamuzu Banda, during his reign, paid a state visit, Zimbabweans were shocked to see one of his ministers or high-ranking officials, kneeling down, to greet the Ngwazi.

While kneeling is established cultural custom for women, it was the first time that Zimbabweans had ever seen a man kneel before another man, I suppose.

Why do these people demean themselves by such self-deprecating behaviour?

I think some people conflate Mickey-Mouse grovelling and belly-crawling with RESPECT!

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