Munyaradzi Kereke almost single-handedly destroyed — or, indeed, did destroy — former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono after the latter sacked him in 2012.
echoes: CONWAY TUTANI
Kereke “went nuclear” in his attacks on both the person and office of Gono. It was too ugly to enjoy — akin to First Lady Grace Mugabe’s sordid salvos against former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, when she burst into the political scene like a whirlwind in 2014.
When someone that close to you — like Kereke was to Gono, as the latter’s adviser at the RBZ, making him his de facto number two — makes it their business to demonise you, people are bound to jump to believe it.
Said Gono this week about that episode in 2012 when Kereke embarked on a sustained campaign to destroy him: “The effect was to draw daggers against me and I became a marked man. So started the plot to bring down the governor by all means possible and usually, when a dirty job is to be done, there is no better person to do it than someone believed to be close, be it as a friend, brother, sister, close relative or workmate.”
Indeed, that’s the entry point. You don’t have to look far. We can all relate to that, as all families — including mine and yours — have their own Kerekes let loose to do us down as and when convenient. On a scale of one to 10 for meanness, I would rate such characters at 11 — they crash the scales. Our detractors hide behind these good-for-nothing people, failures, scoundrels and lowlifes to get at us.
That’s the function of lies and slander — false statements that are uttered with the deliberate intent of harming someone’s name.
Gono eventually realised that he had taken on board a “frenemy”, a friend who turns into an enemy, the type of “friend” whose words or actions bring you down. They are those “good people” that you can, so to say, count on to bring you down sometime in the future. It’s that type of friend you ought to cut off, but you dither because you have had good times with them. But they will continue to bring you down until you say enough is enough and cut them loose — which Gono finally did by firing Kereke in 2012. No one — Gono included — deserves someone like that near them.
That is why I was not impressed at all by Kereke’s new-found crusade to ruin Gono, as if he was exemplary himself.
Having dealt with Kereke at close range and getting acquainted with his vituperative language and dodgy and dirty tactics, my first inclination was to take his attacks on Gono with not just a pinch of salt, but a whole spoonful.
This, despite Gono’s disastrous record at RBZ, which opened floodgates to today’s systemic corruption through his quasi-fiscal policies, which made a bad situation much, much worse.
And, tell you what, Kereke is not a pleasure to talk to. In 2011, I had the “privilege” of sitting down with him in his not-so-ornate RBZ office. I went there as an investigator in his complaint against a reporter he was accusing of extorting money from him so that she would withhold writing what he called a false story about him.
But in no time at all, I found that the accusation was totally baseless, as the reporter had legitimate journalistic grounds to pursue the matter and had approached him, as per standard practice, to get his side of the story.
Instead of concentrating on the gist of his complaint, Kereke besmirched the character of the reporter, painting her as of loose morals, saying she had been seen drunk at an Oliver Mtukudzi show the previous weekend. I found it contemptible and disgusting.
As if that was not off topic enough, Kereke then said he had the reporter trailed by State security agents and now knew where her mother stayed and the mother’s first name. It then struck me that Kereke had delusions of grandeur — that false belief that one is so, so important and so, so powerful that heads they win, tails they win. That they can get away with anything.
The threatening and menacing tone of it tallies with what Gono said this week: “Any member of (RBZ) staff could be arrested or harassed by police at (Kereke’s) say-so, inside or outside the bank.”
However one feels about Gono, he cannot be faulted for unpacking this dark, manipulative side of Kereke. That’s exactly the bullying and big-headed Kereke I know, who would unleash police to pick up and detain reporters “daring” to write negative, but factual, stories about him.
Those were the days when Kereke was at the top of his game. He felt so powerful because he had several journalists in his pocket to the extent that he would be forewarned about a story being worked on about him and would, without hesitation, tell the reporter to lay off. He had eyes and ears in newsrooms, with reporters reduced to spying on each other. That how bad news Kereke was.
This echoes Gono’s observation about Kereke’s time at RBZ: “There started to be divisions in the bank . . . This confused many and created parallel structures of loyalty and factions.”
Kereke is now finally in jail, where he rightly belongs, but only after trying all the tricks in the book to silence the media by making all sorts of threats against the publishing of the initial allegations against him of raping — of all people — a minor relative.
And only after taking down others with him. Suspended Prosecutor-General (PG) Johannes Tomana is currently on trial for allegedly obstructing the State and private prosecution of Kereke for the rape and other cases.
Said the magistrate in imprisoning Kereke last year: “If it was not for the relentless efforts by the victim’s grandparents, this case could have died a natural death. The court must not have mercy on him (Kereke). What they were doing with the PG is corruption, and up to now, we do not know why he was being protected.”
Kereke had no accountability, no boundaries, and no guilt — no matter how much harm and violence he did to others in business and in his private life.
This, thus, makes him owe apologies all round if it is to be believed that he is now truly contrite for his trail of destruction.
Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org