Masiyiwa never ceases to shame the devil

Strive Masiyiwa, the Econet Wireless founder, has always been his own man.


With all his wealth, Masiyiwa does not get ahead of himself. His public persona is that of gentility — that social superiority, not superior airs, as demonstrated by polite and respectable manners — which does not put off people. He is too urbane and cultured to beat his own drum, to thump his own chest. He does not have that irritating manner found too often among some public figures, who claim they are the best at everything.

Masiyiwa took on the whole Zanu PF behemoth almost single-handedly and finally prevailed to get a licence and start his own mobile telephone firm in 1998. Econet Wireless now has a global footprint and has several times come to the aid of that very same government which wanted to unfairly and unjustifiably deny him a business opportunity which has turned into a boon for the nation. Magnanimity does not come in bigger doses than that. That’s shaming the devil.

The Econet founder and executive chairman this week told CNBC Africa: “… concerning the change that has taken place, I believe it is real. I believe President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa is sincere in the things he wants to do.”

We should remember that the era of former President Robert Mugabe mostly reflected the political divisions in the country. But after his ouster, many people saw the disappearance of that political incompatibility or irreconcilability of differences. During the Mugabe days, the message or clarion call was for people to fight a savage, cruel and implacable enemy and to save the country from disaster and this galvanised people.

But today, many people — including Masiyiwa, who fought many political battles with the government even from self-exile — no more view Zanu PF as an implacable enemy to be resisted and overcome.

However, some opposition leaders are still talking as if we are still besieged and harassed from every direction by an implacable enemy, but they show by their actions — such as calling Mnangagwa all sorts of names and openly calling for people to rise in rebellion and march to State House to topple his government when they are within easy reach of the government to clamp down on them — that they know they are not being suppressed and victimised at all.

It’s now up to those supporters to open their eyes and see for themselves that what they are being told is at variance with the reality on the ground which shows political freedom has been greatly broadened —as observed not only by Masiyiwa, but even by the international community. But this should not be confused with having a free-for-all fight with no rules and no limits.

To quote civil rights lawyer Zechariah Chafee, “the right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins”, meaning your freedom ends where my freedom begins, that you cannot have the freedom to do whatever you want — like openly calling for rebellion using all sorts of gratuitous insults — and then cry foul when you are arrested.

Now they are talking about an Arab Spring-like rebellion and advertising that to the whole world. Well, they ought to be reminded about what former Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo, their new-found behind-the-scenes strategist who could be leading them to the slaughter like lambs, said about them over that issue in 2011: “Only God knows why these hopeless copycats, whose death wish is to be arrested at the Harare Gardens and be charged with treason in accordance with the rule of law they love preaching about, honestly think they can do an Egypt or Libya in Zimbabwe.” (The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart).

Moyo is right on three grounds. One, Zimbabwe is not ripe for rebellion as those who would like to copy and paste the Arab Spring here would have their supporters believe. In fact, conditions for rebellion are receding by the day as fuel queues disappear, shops restock, panic-buying ends and, with that, prices begin to fall.

Two, you should not cry foul when after you have been granted permission to hold a rally, in accordance with the rule of law, you then go on to breach that rule of law by seditious talk inciting people to rebel against the government in power.

And, three, Moyo’s reference to “death wish”, particularly pertaining to party supporters, is poignant but not far-fetched because known politicians disowned and distanced themselves from those demonstrators chanting party songs on August 1 after the protest had turned violent.

Sadly and tragically, this culminated in seven people being shot dead by soldiers, which is now subject of a commission of inquiry, so cannot be prejudged. My point is that people should have that presence of mind so as not to be caught up in other people’s wars when there is really nothing in it for them.

Masiyiwa also called for the removal of economic sanctions, saying they are unjustified. It has dawned on people that anyone pushing for sanctions and perpetual political conflict is not looking out for the best interest of the country or Zimbabwean citizens as a whole.

Said Masiyiwa: “I have been on record to say that sanctions are not justified and now we are almost 20 years into the sanctions and you can’t have one country operating with its hands tied behind the back.” Can you imagine that Zimbabwe has been under debilitating sanctions for about half of the 38 years of its existence? That is, indeed, devilish.

That’s the unadulterated, pure facts of the matter. One does not need economic sense, but just common sense, to get that. But for “daring” to point out that obviousity, Masiyiwa has earned the wrath of a section of Zimbabweans. Naturally, they feel that their very political lives are threatened by this announcement in view of Masiyiwa’s immense influence in Zimbabwe without mentioning beyond the borders. Masiyiwa’s bold statement poses an existential threat to them.

But they haven’t come down with a ton of bricks on American economist Steve Hanke for saying much worse about sanctions this week: “Sanctions are economically illiterate and punish innocent civilians rather than targeted governments. Oftentimes, the political elite get rich, while ordinary citizens are left to live off scraps. It’s time to call sanctions what they are: war crimes.” Indeed, sanctions are evil.

Let me give Masiyiwa the last word: “I have invested in Zimbabwe in the last 10 years, $1,5 billion, okay? And I am committed to investing in Zimbabwe as I have always been come rain, come shine … It is going to be extremely challenging, everybody knows that. Anyone who knows economics knows it is going to be tough going, but I think Zimbabwe needs to be given a chance. We got to stop politicking and focus on rebuilding this country and I am right up there, okay?” Well, clear as crystal that.

When a pragmatic patriot like Masiyiwa speaks, you sit up and listen. The economic implosion that some are hoping and praying for may not or won’t happen any time soon.

Masiyiwa never ceases to shame the devil like he did in 1998 — of course, now it’s a different kind of devil altogether.

Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email:

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  1. Comment…hero worshipper

  2. Lizwi Alpha Ntuli

    I have a difficulty in seeing the real difference between Mugabe and Mnangagwa. Yes cosmetic changes are there for all to see but real change…I think you are being overly optimistic. For starters, there is inertia on repealing repressive legislation. There is deafening silence on electoral reforms which are the main cause of friction between MDC and ZANU. Gukurahundi remains unsolved and anyone who dares to talk about it is beaten to pulp. Corruption fight remains talk, talk, talk…. Mangundya suspended 4 directors and then said ah no, they did no wrong. So why where they suspended?

    Change of name for country president, yes. But change that will usher an environment where people will prosper….No. Not yet uhuru, please, and don’t ask Zimbabweans to be patient. We have been patient since 1980….

    1. LIZWI ALPHA NTULI, it’s an exaggeration and distortion to say “we have been patient since 1980” because the first 10-15 years of independence were considered a success. Let’s stick to the record, not fictionalise.

  3. This pure diplomacy on the part of SM, proper business acumenship. Did you ever hear him criticize Mugabe in public. In a straw of 30 min he has managed to ensure that 10 0r so of his operational licence, which rely on the goodwill of Mnangagwa, in the various sectors of Zimbabwe are guaranteed and ensuring he gets his $10-15 Million dividend is protected. A great business man. As a businessman with interest In Zim. if asked I would have said the same.

  4. Just because Strive said:, does it make it right ?? I find no logic in juxtaposing Mugabe and Mnangagwa, the letter being better than the former. That’s ridiculous.

    1. MALVERN, it’s ridiculous of you to think that your view is universal. Mnangagwa won the election because the majority of Zimbabweans see him as better than Mugabe.

  5. Madhogodhogo Bikaz janana

    I used to big this Tutani guy but from the way he has fallen hook line and sinker to Mnangagwa’s perfomance or lack of it beats me.He first tries to describe Strive Masiiwa as someone who is down to earth,someone who is well respected and so on , so as to buttress his own thinking that whatever such kind of people say it is always right and their views are always correct.What difference does it make to stop beating up people during elections period and resort to stealing votes by announcing wrong results?Yes people could have been beaten up here and there but not as worse as happened in 2008.They used another method of giving you the wrong results tilted in favour of zanu pf but the fact remains ,they managed to achieve their objective of stealing the elections.Stealing by any means is stealing.If there were cases that should have been fast tracked to the courts,it was of those targeted criminals surrounding the president because their criminal tendencies affected the country’s economy in a big way but up to date not even a single criminal has been convicted.Mnangagwa just says what he knows his gullible supporters would want to hear and you hear some of them saying wanzwa here zvataurwa na ED nhasi.It ends there because he doesnt take any action and some of the things that needs to be done do not need money at all.Maybe Tutani has also been promised some godies by the regime,the regime is known for its penchant for spin doctors who can lie straight in your faces that coming when he is actually going.Hameno pamwe ndomafungirowo ako Tutani tingakudii,hapana.

    1. This is stupid logic from you Madhogodhogo, to say someone with a different view must somehow have been bought. You don’t have copyright to views, dunderhead.

  6. Conway Tutani is captured

    There were go again with the captured “independent media” mouthpiece of the cartel. Money talks hey….

    1. You panicking nerrorists are even saying Strive Masiyiwa is captured, but even your own MDC murungu Steve Hanke has described sanctions as “war crimes”, so is he now also a mouthpiece?

  7. Apart from “good, popular talk” what in reality has this “new dispensation” actually DONE to sort our corruption, fix the economy, create jobs, embark on electoral reforms etc …please can these be quantified.
    I am anathema to praise anyone based on theory, action speaks loudest, always!
    I sense the same blind faith to Bob’s speeches as some people are warming up to ED’s speeches, where’s the actual difference?

    1. SAGITARR, where is theory there? It’s you who is theorising about the practical examples the writer has given to demonstrate his points.

  8. Emmanuel Mbedzi Siziba

    On point strive. I agree with you

  9. As for me i ceased reading Conman Tutani’s articles when i realised his unjustified jealous fueled anger against Nelson Chamisa. So just the headline was enough, and the comments filled in the spaces. Just like your Boss Ncube the love of the dollar has compromised your media empire relevance. I now find Daily News a much more balanced read than this hogwash. Just remember Mr Editor and team that you cant outcompete Herald on propaganda and we are watching you.

    1. THE GURU, you are not a clever guru. How can you comment on something you have stopped reading altogether? Don’t take us for fools. You are still reading Tutani’s articles.

  10. If the truth be told, Conway Tutani clearly has a side which he supports – which is the establishment. It then becomes obvious who he was rooting for during the factional wars in Zanu PF that propelled Mnangagwa to the throne – Lacoste. I fully respect that it is his constitutional right to express his opinion and in the process, support whom soever he wants to, but I think the Editor is abusing us readers by exposing us to this kind of verbiage week in, week out. The column should be contributed to by varied personalities who represent the diversity of our national thought and readership, rather than this one trajectory thought every week. Tutani should not enjoy the privilege of foisting his poison on readers without recourse to another avenue of thought. Clearly, even a kindergarten child who has followed this column will conclude on whose side he is on. In brief, we need a plurality of voices. This is no different from the columns we see in the Herald and Sunday Mail where week in and week out, party activist clothed as analysts, are given acres and acres of space to denigrate other citizens. I had so much respect for this paper (NewsDay) but I am considering not even bothering to read it like I don’t do The Herald for habitually spewing propaganda. I equally respect Tutani’s right to freedom of expression and speech, but if the truth be told, he is abusing us in the name of the supposed New Dispensation. In the same manner, he is perpetuating and aiding and abetting the excesses of the new regime.

    1. MAONAZVANGU, what you are saying is disingenuous as one can also equally say you sided with Chamisa in the MDC wars, but to you it’s not a crime, but if Tutani, as you wrongly say, has a side it becomes a crime. Revisit your thought process. 99% of opinion pieces in NewsDay are anti-Zanu PF but you complain over that 1% of Tutani’s balanced articles. Grow up.

  11. @ Conway Tutani

    The Zimbabwe you are talking about is not the real Zimbabwe we know!

    “It’s now up to those supporters to open their eyes and see for themselves that what they are being told is at variance with the reality on the ground which shows political freedom has been greatly broadened —as observed not only by Masiyiwa, but even by the international community. But this should not be confused with having a free-for-all fight with no rules and no limits,” you say.

    The EU, the Americans and all the nations with a history of holding free, fair and credible elections have all condemned Zimbabwe’s recent elections. No one cares what a countries like China said on the matter since they do not hold free and fair democratic elections. So which international community has “observed the greatly broadened political freedoms” in Zimbabwe?

    Zimbabwe, under Mugabe, was a pariah state ruled by corrupt and vote rigging thugs. Zimbabwe, under Mnangagwa, is still a pariah state ruled, except for Mugabe and a few who were booted out, by the same corrupt and vote rigging thugs!

    38 years of corrupt and tyrannical Zanu PF rule has left 75% of our people living in abject poverty and hopeless despair. The nation has been pushed right up to the edge of the precipice; this is socially and politically unsustainable; the danger of total economic collapse and riots breaking out to protest the heartbreaking suffering is real and eminent.

    We must stop burying our heads in the sand and pretend, given time, the Zanu PF dictatorship will finally deliver economic recovery after 38 years of doing the exact opposite! Whilst people like Masiyiwa can afford to give Mnangagwa a chance the millions living on US$1.00 or less a day cannot afford it, time has long run out for them.

    1. As usual, WILBERT MUKORO, you lack basic facts and basic grasp of political issues. As we speak, there are intentional efforts underway in the United States to suppress minority voting by reducing and removing polling stations in black neighbourhoods ahead of the mid-term elections. This is in the CNN report titled “DEMOCRACY IN PERIL – THE WAR ON VOTING RIGHTS”. So sit down, Mukori!

  12. Gukurume ReMasvingo

    Some people have a nack of hating the government. It seems as though their opinion is the only one right. The article is balanced.
    If you say American politics are clean, then you better revisit your mind at best go to USA and see for yourself. Simply see CNN, ever since Trump is defending him presidential win. Ask yourself why. Let us be objective

  13. Considering how many years Tutani spent at Herald House this is not surprising. I admit I was shocked when I read it on Bulawayo24. This article would be equally at home in The Herald and Newsday. It is a smart idea for a retirement age columnist to sing praises of a Billionaire. These kinds of writers would support genocide. I don’t see the point of insulting your readership and then commentinģ in reply to every comment that diasgrees with you under pseudonyms. Just visit Conway Tutani on Facebook and the thougts in the reply are copied nd pasted with some minor ammendments. You are worse than Jonathan Moyo at his peak, Tutani. I won’t waste my time reading your garbage again. If you think half of Newsday readers agree with this rubbish then you have serious delusions of grandeur or your senility has duly arrived at the onset of retirement. You can always share your thoughts but no need to insult your readers if they share a different opinion.

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