It would have been abnormal by Zimbabwean political standards had the Chingwizi strife not turned political for the economic and political benefit of a few whom we shall call the Fat Cat Clan.
DEJAVU with KAMURAI MUDZINGWA
Zimbabwean ethical political standards, crafted by a few in the Fat Cat Clan hierarchy through their exemplary behaviour, require that fat cats be on the lookout for phenomena that make people suffer in order to cash in on their plight.
The Chingwizi crisis brought to the fore a very big fat cat by provincial standards. Let us call him Mr Fat Cat.
And the Chingwizi flood victims provided fertile ground for the fat cats to flourish. And, of course, journalists had it coming; they broke the cardinal Zimbabwean reporting rule stipulated by the Fat Cat Clan — never tell the truth unless you are praising some thieving fat cat. Now they are literally banned from Chingwizi.
Mr Fat Cat is not content by being one of the small political fat cats of a drought-prone province called Masvingo where the Chingwizi crisis is situated.
As if the gods decided to show the power of irony, the Chingwizi crisis is a result of floods in this drought-prone province. With a little bit of help from our negligent Fat Cat Clan that was forewarned of the impending disaster, but decided to get busy by doing nothing, the floods washed away villages and the estimated 3 000 families that survived are now living on handouts.
Of course, following the ethical standards set by the Fat Cat Clan, the fat cats deny that they were negligent.
When journalists insist on the truth that the Fat Cat Clan was negligent, Mr Fat Cat, knowing that the Fat Cat Clan is founded on denying the truth, sees how denial of facts can endear him to the kings of the Clan [remember one goes up the ladder of the Clan through patronage].
He sees his chance and seizes it. First, he declares himself the King of Chingwizi and declares Chingwizi a no-go-area for the prying eyes of journalists and the helping hand of donors.
As the honourable king of the area, he calls the shots. This is to please his big masters almost 400km away from the centre of his throne in Masvingo
As a fat cat without a mane, he hopes that such attention-seeking actions will make his elders reward him with one.
Being the chief of the oldest province alone makes him feel mane-less as it were.
Reports from villagers also show Mr Fat Cat’s business acumen. He is aware that the Fat Cat Clan has seen through the poor people’s survival tactic — the informal sector.
This sector is so rich, according to our sympathetic Fat Cat Clan, that the taxman has to be unleashed on it. So Mr Fat Cat reasons that the adage “Fortune favours fools” does not apply to him.
He is no fool and fortune has favoured him by bringing the floods that made thousands destitute. He also reasons that fortune knocks once on a man’s door because there might be no other crisis in the province during his lifetime to render many destitute to the point of surviving on donor goods.
He sees the opportunity to set up a lucrative business empire in the informal industry with no effort to raise capital.
Fortunately, floods did the groundwork for him as donations from well-wishers will take care of his capital needs. And this is one advantage of being a king — you declare that everything has to pass through your hands for “vetting” before they reach the intended beneficiaries.
Mr Fat Cat’s vetting, according to villagers, donors and the media, entails sieving the best for his informal businesses. Of course, the fat kittens benefit too.
But Mr Fat Cat is no political fool. He sees the chance to campaign for both the much-desired mane and the Fat Cat Clan by politicising the donations.
He wants all donors to leave goods at his doorstep so that he does not suffer the embarrassment of lying to the flood victims in front of the real donors that it was him and a few other fat cats who sourced all donations.
Those who openly oppose his actions risk the wrath of the Fat Cat Clan’s claws.
Mr Fat Cat knows that if he helps solve the Chingwizi crisis, he would be going against Clan standards. He is aware that the standards require him to steal those donations for personal benefit and to defend the Fat Cat Clan’s mishandling of the issue.
Mr Fat Cat also knows that in search of a mane, he has to cash in on the crisis before it ends. So, logically, the longer the crisis, the more he can flex his claws, please his masters — who might reward him with a mane — and, of course, get rich in the process.
So when I read reports about Mr Fat Cat’s behaviour, from declaring himself King of Chingwizi to his pilfering of donated goods and blatant lies that he was the source of the goods, I understood his behaviour — he is the Clan’s King of Chingwizi in search of political and personal glory [the mane].