By Kenneth Mufuka
I HAVE been battling with the question of the power of the press. To tell you the truth, I have not made up my mind where the line should be drawn. The allegations against Vice-President Kembo Mohadi show the power of the press to build and to destroy a character and a career.
Let us begin with former US president Bill Clinton in December 1998. Monica Lewinsky had confided in Linda Tripp (a scandal monger) of her sexual liaison with Clinton in the White House library. Tripp volunteered to keep the germ-loaded underwear until such a time she could use it for blackmail.
In the transcript before me, dated December 19, 1998, Clinton, who had hitherto denied any sexual relationship, now changed course. “I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate,” he said. “I misled people, including my wife. I deeply regret it.”
Before you read the next juicy bits, please find a safe seat. As Professor Lovemore Madhuku has said in the Mohadi allegations, there is no law against Philistine behaviour, especially when the accused is an elected official. Now you will say: “Ken, please be regular. If not about a Philistine sexual act, what was Clinton being impeached for?”
Judge Kenneth Starr, Republican, accused Clinton of lying about his affair with Monica. Please men of Harare, Masvingo and Bulawayo, is there anyone among you who would volunteer to release information about their private affairs knowing fully that the wife and daughters are listening?
Clinton does refer to this matter. “Why is Judge Starr prying into the private lives of citizens?”
Democrats took this line of argument and refused to condemn Clinton, thus setting him free to finish his term of office.
Linda, an evil-looking gargoyle, conspired with Starr to bring down an elected president. If Linda had given me the information, and showed me the germ-loaded underwear in her keeping, I would have published the story. If I did not, H-Metro and Zimlive would claim to have made a scoop.
That is the danger posed by a headline-seeking press. Linda revealed the presence of the underwear to the press without Monica’s permission.
In Mohadi’s case, here is my suspicion. Four incidents are alleged. The claim is that the Vice-President by his use of bad words in the alphabet beginning the capital letter “F” was a Philistine. The information about the Bulawayo female student apparently came from third parties, and so did the information about the proposed office shindig. Two women are said to be employees under the VP’s supervision. These women have not filed complaints against him.
Then there is an evil tape record. Surely the women would not have taped themselves because it would compromise their relationship with their husbands. I suspect the secret service had the access and means to do this.
But why is the secret service prying into private lives?
As in the case of Clinton, they Federal Bureau of Investigation keeps secrets on a regular basis in order to blackmail their customers, politically or monetarily.
When Democrats were in opposition, they gathered a list of 22 women whom they said had been abused by former president Donald Trump. With the help of the FBI and other secret organisations as well as the press, they now claimed, what they did not claim for Clinton, that a person guilty of Philistine behaviour is not fit for office.
VP Mohadi has had difficulties with his marriage before. In March 1999, Stover Mutori, a development officer with the World Lutheran Federation, went missing. Working closely with Senator Tambudzani (Mohadi’s wife) on development issues, he was also suspected of being too close to the senator.
His decomposing body was found on the 17th of August the same year. When Mohadi was promoted to minister of Home Affairs, the police investigation into the matter died a natural death.
When I was researching in Bulawayo, I was disgusted to find that a 24-year-old girl, Nokuthula, was associated with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC. Steeped in Americanism, I gave unsolicited advice to some MDC officials that a leader of his stature should not be left in solitude with any woman not his wife.
“Iwe Kenny, your head is full of water, do you hear me? Morgan is a grown-up man. Do you want me to tell him whom he can see and whom he cannot?” Tsvangirai’s door keeper gave me a nice scolding (Zimbabwean English).
Nevertheless, I was correct.
No political leader should be left alone in the presence of a pretty woman.
The assumption which all political oppositions make when they are out of power, is that leaders should behave with a certain rectitude. History does not support this idea. King David caused the death of Uriah the Hittite in order to allow himself time with his wife Bathsheba.
In recent times every American president from George Washington to the present has had problems with women. Only Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln were free from scandal.
This does not mean that Philistine sexual practices bordering on lechery (extreme promiscuity) should be tolerated. In Africa, even before social media, there are secrets where everybody knows what is going on, but nobody knows anything. (Ashanti idiom).
Such behaviour leads to loss of charisma (the right to lead).
After taking former president Canaan Banana around the Great Zimbabwe in 1983, my staff informed me that Banana’s smart aide-de-camp Jethro Nyathi was his “girlfriend”. They ignored my retort and explained that Banana was a “ngochani”.
Almost 20 years later, when Banana was trying to resuscitate Zapu as an opposition party, allegations of gay abuse of office were brought against him. He was sent to jail.
In this particular case, Mohadi should not blame us the fraternal brothers of the press. The press is used by political opponents to “finish him off” and that is why there is so much emphasis on Philistine behaviour, that tribe of humans who had no rules whatever, daughter slept with father and mother likewise slept with son.
It is judgement before trial. Having been tarred and feathered as a Philistine, any answer by Mohadi to such allegations only serves to adumbrate the issues. The accusers are the jury and the judges. It is a no-win situation.
Here is a note of hope for the distressed: It is illegal to tape a voice without the owner’s consent.
- Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. He can be reached at email@example.com. His books are available from Innov Bookshops in Zimbabwe. 🔺