LET marriage be honourable among all, and let the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge sexually immoral people, reads Hebrews 13 verse 4.
In the past week, the most topical issue has not been the developments on the hotly disputed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission delimitation report, or the assertions by the opposition leader Nelson Chamisa that his nascent Citizens Coalition for Change was ready for elections.
Why, even the fatal daredevil antics of the public transporter Rimbi Tours and Zebra Kiss drivers are yesterday’s news while the suspension of eight girls at one of the country’s top schools, Dominican Convent, for taking drugs at a camp in Nyanga mere rippled the country’s social media sphere.
But the shenanigans of one Harare lady identified as Tariro or Mai Denzel has set Zimbabwe’s social media alight.
Apparently, her antics read like those of Sylvia Maria Kristel, the woman behind the eponymous character Emmanuelle of the French movie series by the same name which ran from the 1970s through the 1990s, pushing boundaries of what could be watched on mainstream television, even if it were at night when innocent eyes are supposed to be asleep.
In what is believed to be an act of revenge, Mai Denzel cheated on her husband with, an army man, Daniel Parangeta of Chimhanda Village in Rushinga, Mt Darwin, and another unidentified man.
During happier times, it appears that Parangeta and Mai Denzel used to capture some of their best moments in their birthday suits.
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They even recorded a sex tape, which later went viral, thanks to the jilted Parageta who is said to have sent the video and nude pictures to Mai Denzel’s husband in a fit of pique.
She apparently dumped him for Parangeta’s friend.
“I was dating someone my brother, so I later dumped him and started dating another one. I didn’t know they knew each other. So, he discovered that affair and told my husband. He also showed him some nude pictures of me that I had sent him,” Mai Denzel says in one of the audios that have become hot.
She also confessed to her aunt.
Baba Denzel had enough of her cheating ways and asked her brother to take her away. He had no bus fare, so it was resolved that she moves in with her mother in Harare’s Budiriro suburb.
“I was surprised when her boyfriend Daniel told me about his relationship with Mai Denzel. As if that was not enough, he then sent my wife’s nude pictures as proof that ‘we were, indeed, in love’. I then confronted my wife about the issue and asked her about Daniel and she ran away, only to seek refuge at the landlord’s house,” Baba Denzel narrated to Mai Denzel’s aunt.
How the public reacted
Padare/Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender Programmes development and fundraising manager Thando Makubaza said only women have been shamed because of infidelity, but with the advent of social media, the tide was changing.
“Infidelity cuts across both genders as it is not only done by men or women. Anybody can be associated with infidelity. However, the various issues trending on social media usually highlight the infidelity of women because in our Zimbabwean background and African culture it is not expected for a woman to cheat,” Makubaza said.
“If you flip the coin, it has been acceptable since time immemorial that men can cheat and are not held accountable. For over decades, it has been accepted that it is supposed to be fine for man to cheat. On the other side, women have been expected to understand and accept an apology and move on with the marriage.”
She added: “Maybe it is the change of time and women now say it was not okay and never was okay to accept that man can cheat without being held accountable. Women were always told that it is what marriages do and that is what men do.
“However, in my opinion, it has never been like that. It was just a case of power issue which was never acceptable to women. There is no woman who would say ‘it is okay, you can go ahead and do what you want’. It only happened because there was no choice for women. That is why now when a woman cheats it blows out of proportion and it goes viral because she is not expected to do that.”
Makubaza said infidelity has always been there, but only that back then, women were not doing it or if they cheated, it was not brought into the limelight like it does now.
“If you track most of the cases of infidelity, at one time or the other, men would have cheated and the woman was expected to understand. In the past, when a man cheated, it was praised and everyone would know about it, but culturally when a woman did cheat, it was hidden, but in this generation of social media, people are now doing whatever comes to mind,” she noted.
As a solution, Makubaza said there should not be encouragement of one gender over the other to tolerate cheating.
“Let us call infidelity wrong, whether done by a man or a woman. There is a lot that happens when infidelity issues arise, so let none of the spouses be encouraged or praised when they do it,” she said, adding that it was high time people look at infidelity as a cancer.
“Conversations of why men do it or why women do it should be openly discussed. The root causes are where the problem is. The solving part includes churches and various institutions openly talking about it, so that we openly understand what is happening,” she noted.
“Some people think that it is revenge cheating, but I disagree because I believe there is no revenge cheating. It is very important to look at these things from an objective side rather than a subjective eye.”
Makubaza said the marriage institution was always the job of a woman to keep intact.
“Although there might have been infidelity happening, women were always expected to keep the marriage presented as if it is perfect. Indeed, back then, the marriage was sacred and respected. It was usually the job of a woman to ensure that whatever happens under the roof is kept there,” she noted.
“However, the woman we have today is also someone who goes out there to hunt and bring in resources for the family. Thus, there is nobody who is always going to have time to build and mend the marriage full of infidelity.”
She added: “The fact that everybody is out there working and trying to survive has left the several marriages vulnerable because women are no longer there to shield the shortcomings in their homes including infidelity.”
Makubaza said men should be encouraged to find support and appropriate advice when issues of infidelity arise in their homes.
“Men have also developed coping mechanisms. They have reached a point whereby they do not choose the route to violence. It has become a norm for men to walk away and start elsewhere or just move on with life,” she said.
“This has been embraced by many and they have been able to walk away from situations rather than beating or killing their spouses.”
The co-founder of the Fathers Against Abuse, Alois Nyamazana, acknowledged that there has been an increase in the number of people who are cheating, including the married people who share several reasons behind their actions.
“One thing that we need to understand is that cheating has always been there in my view. However, it has obviously increased because of social media, which has amplified it. People can now record videos and take photos using their phones, which in turn has necessitated the dissemination of information and as a result, issues are now easily exposed as compared to the past where we did not have mobile phones,” he explained.
“Social media has actually revealed the cheating that has been happening in marriages. It sometimes presents the other side of life and portrays those things as normal and as if life is perfect. Most married people when they see posts of other couples seemingly enjoying themselves and going out, they will think their marriages are boring and try to experiment with other people, which in the end leaves them cheating.”
Nyamazana said lack of emotional connection in marriage can also lead to cheating.
“People will be together in a marriage, but there is that lack of emotional connection. The bond that keeps people together will be lacking and once they find the opportunity to cheat, they grab it,” he said.
“The main reason for marriage is companionship, which is built from emotional connection and that is lacking, which leads to partners trying to find that happiness somewhere. I have also noticed that people are not respecting the basic fundamentals of marriage. This includes appreciating your spouse, complimenting your spouse and sharing quality time with them.”
He continued: “Everybody needs emotional security and being complimented when they do well. For instance, if your spouse dresses up, they need to be complimented. Those basic things are missing in so many marriages and as a result this cheating pandemic ends up happening. Abuse and domestic violence also lead to cheating, but in my view, the main reason is lacking the fundamentals needed in a marriage.
“Women have severally pointed out that they cheat because they lack an emotional connection. Also, some people cheat as revenge. If you trace the record, you will realise that most women would be cheating to get revenge on their husbands who have previously done so too.”
Nyamazana said it was unfortunate that people no longer respected the marriage institution.
“The marriage institution has been regarded as a contract that can be broken anytime. There is no longer that seriousness, hence we are having high divorce rates. The issue of premarital sex is also destroying the importance of marriage,” he said.
“When people start having sexual intercourse before they get into marriage and then they get into it, they will not regard it with due importance. This is because what they will be getting in marriage, they have always been getting it before they got in marriage, hence people end up not respecting the institution of marriage.”
Nyamazana said the issue of couples living in different parts of the world is also of concern.
“The other reason is attributed to people who are being called influencers. The people that are being called social influencers and celebrities hardly have stable marriages yet they are like the role models of so many people,” he said.
“It means people look up to them to say if he/she divorced, then why can’t I do the same also. They are no longer elderly relatives to counsel available to counsel their young ones, the likes of aunties. So, people end up getting counsel from the television and media, of which the media itself is helping in portraying marriage as something of less importance.”
“Thus, the marital institution is obviously under attack and people hardly get time to learn about it before getting into it. Getting into marriages with so many expectations and later facing the reality of it has caused the marriages to break down.”
How social media responded?
On social media, support for Mai Denzel is unanimous. She has been trending on Twitter for the whole week.
Users on Facebook are even more vocal.
“2023 Women’s Conference, Mai Denzy muoffice!!! Pamberi-mberi naMai Denzy, chiranga mapenzi. Madzimai woyeeeeee!!!! Saka muchaita sei shiri zvayabvuta rhekeni?” posted one Facebook user.
“I have already voted for her. Ndadzidza zvakawada pana Mai Denzy. Maita basa nedzidziso yakakosha yokutanga kwegore. Maten days emadzimai adairwa fast,” a Mai Svumbununu responded.
Another woman user responded: “Kkkkk ngatifambiranei pamwechete madzimai. Mai Denzy is representing us well, well kunze uko.”
Zimbabwe is said to be a Christian country. In the Bible, Mark 10 verse 9 reads: What God has yoked together, let no man put apart.
Not anymore, it seems.