Sir Wicknell: Poorest man in Zim

Is Chivayo really pleased and proud with himself that his masters in the Zimbabwean regime hounded a legend like Mapfumo out of his own country?

WHEN I read a recent diatribe by self-proclaimed businessman Wicknell Chivayo, I felt like puking.

He exhibited zero shame while berating and disparaging legendary musician Thomas Mapfumo, as well as fearless human rights activists Job Sikhala and Hopewell Chin’ono.

The focus of his vicious, and quite frankly, uncalled for attacks on these great men was what he perceived as their weaker financial status compared to himself. He unashamedly mocked Mapfumo’s supposed “destitution” in the United States, where he is based.

Chivayo went further to describe Chin’ono as a “half-witted and failed pseudo-journalist”.

As if he had not disgraced himself enough, he proceeded to poke fun at Sikhala’s solitary confinement during his two-year unjust and unconstitutional incarceration.

I would have ordinarily ignored this rant as the raving of a man harbouring some unknown issues.

Nevertheless, what I found most disturbing is how some people appear to believe that financial wealth is everything.

I am a social justice advocate and writer myself, who has faced many financial difficulties due to the nature of my work, which many employers may be reluctant to associate with. In fact, I keep repeating that I lost a very lucrative job with an non-governmental organisation in South Africa after rejecting its ultimatum to stop my critical writing or lose my job.

This was because the organisation was involved in humanitarian work in Zimbabwe and, as such, feared that my articles would lead to conflict with the Zanu PF regime.

Today, I still face the same challenges, whereby I have lost many opportunities due to my fearless social justice advocacy. Why did I choose the route I took — which does not earn me any money — over a well-paying job?

As much as it was a tough decision to make — on account of my dire economic situation — my love for the suffering people of Zimbabwe took first preference. There was no way I would have chosen living a life of comfort and pleasure while the ordinary people of Zimbabwe endured unimaginable poverty and oppression with no one to speak for them.

Standing up and speaking out for the suffering gave (and still gives) me more satisfaction and fulfilment in my life, which no amount of money could ever buy.

Even today, I go to bed with a contented heart whenever I speak for the impoverished, or when my work brings positive results for the marginalised.

There is nothing that gives me greater joy than receiving a message or phone call from people I would have assisted in airing their grievances against authorities expressing gratitude for ensuring that the issues were resolved.

What can beat that?

Is there any way I can ever derive the same satisfaction and fulfilment from having a donated lavish house and car from a character like Chivayo meant to silence me?

Would I ever be able to sleep comfortably at night, even in the most expensive mansion, knowing that there are millions of suffering Zimbabweans out there who now have no one to speak out for them?


I would appreciate more receiving assistance from well-meaning individuals or entities supporting my advocacy work. I have used my own life experience, but I know full well that this also applies to Mapfumo, Chin’ono and Sikhala.

As a matter of fact, I was invited by Sikhala to his home in St Mary’s (Chitungwiza) a month ago, soon after his release from the unjust and unconstitutional incarceration. I had the opportunity to know who he really is.

This is a man who would never exchange the harrowing experience he had in prison for a life where he no longer speaks out and stand up for the oppressed people of Zimbabwe.

In our conversation and from seeing with my own eyes the real Sikhala, it was so easy to tell his genuine devotion and passion for the cause of the ordinary citizen. In fact, despite the fact that he is a renowned lawyer, he elected to stay in a high-density suburb — “with the people”, as he proudly told me.

I had never met a humble person like Sikhala.

So, on what basis would someone like Chivayo ridicule him, or Mapfumo or Chin’ono?

Actually, if, indeed, Mapfumo is truly struggling financially in the US, is this not as a result of Chivayo’s Zanu PF party threats, which drove him into exile?

Is Chivayo really pleased and proud with himself that his masters in the Zimbabwean regime hounded a legend like Mapfumo out of his own country?

Ironically, this is the very same man who once claimed that he wanted to present a lavish house and car in recognition of Mapfumo’s contribution towards Zimbabwe’s independence.

Is it not a huge shame that our post-independence leaders are the ones who have turned into our oppressors, even persecuting those who “contributed to Zimbabwe’s independence”?

What was Mapfumo’s crime?

Merely singing that the country that was won through the shedding of blood by thousands of Zimbabweans has been reduced to tatters by a corrupt ruling elite?

What was Chin’ono’s crime when he was also jailed and placed in solitary confinement, something which Chivayo similarly celebrated?

So, in the mind of Chivayo, this suffering in the quest to bring justice and a better life for the people of Zimbabwe is worth mocking? What has he done for these poverty-stricken people?

In all the dishing out of expensive cars to musicians, has he ever donated even a single paracetamol to our rundown public hospitals or an exercise book to hundreds of impoverished rural schools?






Does he feel big driving around in posh vehicles while the ordinary citizen languishes in unbearable poverty?

According to the World Food Programme, the latest statistics show that 5,4 million Zimbabweans face hunger this month.

What is Chivayo doing for these people?

Yet, those he views as “half-witted and failed pseudo-journalists” are at least highlighting the suffering people’s sorrowful plight.

Those like Sikhala, whom he is mocking for spending time in solitary confinement, have endured the persecution for standing up for those suffering under Zanu PF misrule.

Just as I have personally experienced, Sikhala, Chin’ono and Mapfumo are getting satisfaction and fulfilment from what they are doing for the people of Zimbabwe.

Whether they are poor or not, whether they are jailed or not, their lives have meaning and purpose.

Can we surely say the same about Chivayo? Is he genuinely happy swimming in wealth in the middle of poverty?

In fact, is all this dishing out of expensive cars and flaunting of riches for all to see not a sign of an empty sad man desperate for some attention and validation?

We have real billionaires in Zimbabwe, such entrepreneurs as mobile network operator Econet Wireless boss Strive Masiyiwa, but not once have we ever seen him showing his wealth off like a frenzied child who has been left alone in a room full of sweets.

I can dare say Chivayo is, in fact, the poorest man in Zimbabwe!

Doing what gives one satisfaction and fulfilment is the real wealth. Is that not what Maslow’s hierarchy of needs also shows — with self-actualisation (which includes experiencing purpose and meaning) at the very top?

Chivayo’s quest for wealth — property, shelter and clothing, among others — is at the bottom!

Granted, we all need money to survive, but definitely not at the expense of the people of Zimbabwe.

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