The East African

 • Yesterday 8:41 AM

Apologists abound every time it is suggested that a statement or action has belittled, demeaned, insulted, or otherwise offended someone who has passed, because, it is usually said, doing so is contrary to our culture, which forbids us to speak ill of anyone who is no longer in our midst.

The principle – if it is indeed that – sounds okay to me, because one should normally hesitate to say anything bad of someone who cannot stand up in their own defence, and that is an important tenet of natural justice.

All the same, I have always questioned this “principle” on a number of grounds, one of which is that whoever would rather be well spoken of after their life had better be well behaved in their life. Is this too much to ask for?Unequal agreementsIf this principle is respected, then we will have a series of lives based on unequal agreements in which what is mine is ours and what is yours is yours alone.

Unacceptable. It is like this: If you lead a just life, treat everyone with kindness and take not what is not yours, the rest of humanity will speak well of you long after you are gone. Fair.

Now, in recent weeks, an old ruling-party apparatchik who has lived all his life defending his party whatever the circumstances once again was heard telling people that they should not talk negatively of one particular departed president, because he is gone and our traditions don’t allow such “disrespect.”Predictable. That is what many of them will tell you.

So, when the story broke of a young well-connected woman in Zimbabwe wanting to divorce her husband and the estranged couple fighting over millions of dollars, I thought of how that whole issue should be handled without dissecting this matrimonial quarrel to find who the real players are in the wrangle over such humongous amounts of money.

The girl in the story is Bona Mugabe, daughter of the late Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe, still alive and rich.

African traditionsNow, in our “African traditions,” so much in vogue with our elders such as the parliamentary guru mentioned above, say that the money the young couple are fighting over was part of ill-gotten gains, seeing as there is no indication that the two could have worked hard (or smart) enough to have earned it, and that therefore it must have been stolen by their parents on the wife’s side, Mr and Mrs Mugabe?It would appear that that would be the correct assumption, because it is now clear that when it comes to money and a lavish lifestyle, our former comrade denied himself and her household very little indeed.

Now, if we have to heed what the “African traditions” chorus keeps telling us, we cannot castigate Mr Mugabe because he has already joined our ancestors…Tough.

We are now left with poor Grace, who has had to face up to a lot of vilification ever since Comrade Bob set his eyes on her and she set her eyes on the wealth the old man’s power could bring to her.

Matters of the heart and cash.

What do we do in this case? I ask our “traditionalists.” I do not know whether some Zimbabwe ombudsman — if it exists and functions — will want to pick a few strands from this case to try and establish who did what and who needs to account for what.

PropertiesThe young couple is haggling over tens of millions of dollars worth of properties, including more than 20 farms, apparently grabbed when father-in-law was forcibly expropriating white-owned farms back, you remember when. It is clear that the former first son-in-law, Mr Simbarache Chikore, wants half of what the wife, Bona, has.


The problem is that, now that they are in court they may have to wash more than a little dirty family linen in public, feeding the frenzy of a voyeuristic Zimbabwean and world public, which will be devouring every detailed revelation of how former liberation heroes have become robber-barons, driving the people they were supposed to emancipate deeper into misery while they live in opulence and ostentation.


It touches more than Zimbabwe. All the countries that preoccupied us as they fought for what we thought —wrongly — that it was the liberation of their peoples only to find out later they had their own agenda, are in this category, and they should not be cut any slack as we call out all the highwaymen and brigands who continue to pillage our countries.


The “traditionalist” chorus will have to tell us what we do in such cases as this one. If the case drags on and affidavits are deposited and witnesses called concerning the Dubai villas and Hong Kong hotels, etc, as well as SUVS to shame Beyonce Knowles and Floyd Mayweather.

One of the parents-in-law is dead, and so he cannot be talked about in any negative sense. But can we talk about Grace alone and hope to get all the answers about this heist, which I suspect is not the last we hear about that country and the rest of the south of our continent?Tough.

Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (


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