Reflections on Chief Charumbira!

Chief Fortune Charumbira, president of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs and chair of the Pan African Parliament

Many years ago, I had the privilege of meeting the late president Robert Mugabe at a cultural gathering as young men some dressed like girls passed by us.

“Ko ndicho chirungu ka chakauya ichi.” The interpreter said. (This is part of Western modernisation-rough translation.)

“Zvinhu zvhechirungu izvi, zvimwe hazvikwane.” Mugabe said. (Some of these European customs do not suit us.) He went on to advise that we must choose wisely.

This is the background to defamatory accusations levelled against chief Fortune Charumbira, president of the council of chiefs and president of the Pan African Parliament.

A young girl accused the honourable chief of a crime called “sexual molestation”, but not rape. To support her case, the girl, whose name is protected, has published at least two audio tapes of the chief’s voice. I have listened to these tapes more than five times each.

It is true that the chief said some spicy words whose purpose was sexual seduction of the girl. I have avoided the word “victim” because it was the chief who became a victim.

In Bantu society, if a man says sexual words to a girl, they remain bad words and are regrettable. A case  can be made for shunning the company of the speaker of those words if the speaker is in the habit if sharing his intimate thoughts with women.

Words, unlike in US culture, do not constitute a crime. I spent half a day yesterday with a church insurance agent. A point I queried was an item in the policy, which covered the pastor of a person listening to a sermon was “offended.”  I explained to the agent that our business is to condemn sin, and the sinner will obviously be offended.

The agent said we needed coverage because a jury might decide that the preacher had used hateful language against a sinner.

In Charumbira’s case, the girl did not in any part or form claim that the chief had “forcibly pushed his tail” into her. The audio supports that position. The chief was begging her allowance to some juicy and spicy exposure.

You sluggard, get off your high horse. To say to a girl ndinokuda (I love you) is not a crime. It is a crime in the US. Don’t imitate stupid foreign customs.

The chief is a victim of this Jezebel. The chief communicated with the woman by telephone in good faith, allowed her to use his official limousine from Masvingo to Harare, making a stop-over at the chief’s hide-out at the hotel.

Any mature woman who is invited to a love-pad in a  hotel by a healthy male, should be aware that opposites attract each other. A decent woman, seeing the love-pad, should immediately withdraw and request to continue the fellowship in the lobby downstairs.

My reading is the woman Jezebel did not object to being entertained by the chief in his private love-pad before proceeding to a meeting in Mazowe district.

On her return, she once more availed herself of the services of the chief’s generosity, returning to the same hide-out where she, later, after she had failed to gain advantage, now claims to have been subjected to sexual harassment.

At this point she adds a new twist. True to a pattern of blackmail, she brought with her an audio recorder and led the poor man up the garden path, egging him on to reveal his inner thoughts.

The fact that she had a tape recorder implies that she intended to blackmail the chief. The fact that she recorded the chief’s voice without his consent is a criminal offence regulated by the Data Protection Act.

It would be a dangerous world in which people with criminal intent went about recording private conversations. You sluggard, don’t you know anything about anything? That is why confessions before a priest are privileged. They cannot be divulged or shared with a third person.

If the chief has good sense, he should ask the police to investigate two possible offenses, namely the taping of private conversations without permission and the use of those conversations in the commission of blackmail.

Some relatives

The woman, aided and abetted by greedy relatives, took advantage of a position of privilege created by their close family ties, to harass, shame, defame and embarrass the chief.

We agree that the chief was unwise to bare his heart to a foolish girl.  Men can easily be seduced by the sly body of an attractive woman, not realising the evil intentions within her heart.

The issue is that private conversations were never intended to be aired in public. The law  requires a judge’s permission to tape private conversations. Only on condition that  information gleaned from such conversations would reveal intention to commit crimes.

The treacherous relatives failed to rise to the occasion. Charumbira has distinguished himself as a man of affairs. They ought to be proud of him. Of course, he has grievous faults. The tribe failed utterly in the test of friendship and of blood relationships. A council of wise elders should have called the chief, placed him on a carpet. They could have said some wise words like this.

“We are happy for you, and we are proud of all your accomplishments. But we have been advised that your eyes, especially where women are concerned, have led you into pitfalls. Our advice is that you employ your daughter or somebody very close as your private secretary. This advice was given to young pastors by Reverend Billy Graham. Surely, you will do more good to us in your position now than if you are thrown out of power. Please for our sake, and your sake, we want you to keep your tail under leash.”

Relatives do not rejoice when one of their own falls on hard times.

(Note: Ken Mufuka acknowledges that the late paramount chief Charumbira, Fortune’s father was a dear friend and he remembers him kindly.)

Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. He writes from the US. He can be reached at [email protected])

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