Letter from America:
with KENNETH MUFUKA
An observation made by my daughter, Dr Rumbi, when she was 27 years old has haunted me ever since. Dr Rumbi was preparing for her doctoral defence on governance, and she had returned from a research trip in South Africa.
Her reaction to what I described as corruption (by police on roadblocks) did not provoke the reaction I had anticipated. She said the policeman’s behavior reflected bad governance ideologies at higher echelons. I have since looked up the theory; it is pure Platonian.
George Guvamatanga was appointed permanent secretary in the Finance ministry, September 2018 soon after elections. As such, he is one of the three main players in the economy of Zimbabwe, which includes the Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube. From the beginning, he has been at the centre of one controversy after another.
In Plato’s allegory of the cave men, the prisoners, bound up in a cave, with a fire behind them, saw passing images reflected on the wall before them, which, naturally, having never left the cave, assumed the images were real. George, like his masters, embraces Plato’s cave men ontology, and having never left what Hopewell Chin’ono calls the feeding trough, he cannot distinguish between reality and the cave men’s shadow figures.
In his latest provocation, he invited South African artists to his party. I have an audio of his birthday appreciation speech. “If you give me the figures, I will multiply them by five: by the time you hit South Africa, the money will be in your account.”
The South African outfit normally charges ZR80 000 (roughly US$9 000 plus costs of travel). They normally travel business class. With all their equipment and managers, I cannot see anything less than US$100 000.
But this is not the first time George has splashed money. In 2020, he purchased a kitchen set for US$50 000. In his world, there is a belief that the kitchen ware (and not the cook) makes a good meal.
George has also referred to a time when he celebrated his escape from Covid-19 by hiring a South African Beech Super King 350 jet to take his family to Victoria Falls (Aug 18, 2020).
George has been called to explain his behaviour many times. We, therefore ask ourselves, why is it that, and how is it that George does not seem to grasp the simplest ontological and epistemological problems associated with his behaviour?
The answers are complicated, but I will advance a few theories. I bet that no one in his circle of Philistines even suggested that the chief paymaster of any organisation must not be associated with spendthrift ways.
These cave men live in a make-believe world. In the first instance, (and I may be wrong) I have searched as many speeches as I can about his escape from Covid-19 and his birthday bashes, he does not seem to appreciate the fact that he is in a unique position, that favours come by the grace of heaven. The brother seems to believe that he did it all by himself, a very typical Philistine position.
There was, once upon a time, a rich man who called all his neighbours and said to them. “My granaries are overflowing. I will enjoy my life forever.”
The master of the universe recalled him that night.
The second issue is that a country’s paymaster should not be sending money abroad when 90% of the population is unemployed. Of course, if George is a cave man, he cannot see the reality of this situation. He does not believe that we are telling the truth. When we remind him to mind the poor in the gate and the importune widow, he laughs at us as madmen. He has no appreciation of Magaba township, that the stink in the air invades one’s car as one accelerates in order to escape the stench. But there are people who live there. They cannot escape the stench.
George escaped fundamental moral philosophy by following a fast-track business education, graduating with an MBA from London University. He is a banker without a heart.
We do not condemn the brother for being merry. Indeed, in the Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas Spirit reminded him of his obligations to the poor. George, in his interviews, has precisely refuted this argument. “I cannot pretend to be poor.” he says. The Ghosts were not asking Scrooge to be poor. They were asking him to be sensitive to the poor. It is for his lack of humility, at such a time as this, as indeed was Scrooge, that we condemn him.
By employing South African artists, Brother George disrespects his own.
By importing foreign entertainers at a time when foreign exchange is at a premium, there is no doubt that George’s entertainment is a priority at the Reserve Bank.
George pretends that he has assets and savings offshore. For a banker, to be offshore with his mathematics is a shame. He says that his termination benefits from Barclays Bank amounted to US$3 million. The Zimbabwe Independent, November 10, 2017, quoted from a letter by the chairman of Barclays Bank. His termination benefits amounted to US$354 000. He also boasts of a ranch carrying 1 200 beasts. One assumes that that ranch is a “grab” farm. His figures throw doubt about the veracity of his entrepreneurial activities.
The question arises. Is the brother clothed in his right mind? As Dr Rumbi observed, this behaviour which is reflective of the power echelons, is perfectly normal among the Philistines. In their universe, power is to be enjoyed without restraint.
As I indicated earlier, the power elites attended his party. The ladies’ fashions on display would have made Marie Antoinette envious. The teachers, whose salaries have been reduced from US$500 to US$170 per month by George’s policies look in horror as he spends US$100 000 on a foreign band in a single day. It will take a teacher 36 months to earn that amount of money.
Please dear reader, you will have missed the whole point of my letter if you thought that George’s profligacy is to be condemned. He is in fact a hero among the Philistines and cave men whose epistemologies are incapable of distinguishing shadows from reality.
Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. His award-winning book, Matters of Conscience (2002) has been reprinted. His books are available from Innov8 Bookshops in Zimbabwe and from kenmufukabooks.com in the wider world.
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