HARARE – Too often, among Zimbabwean politicians, promises made during amicable times have receded in the background when the time to fulfil them comes.
A case in point is that of former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the house at No 49 Kew Drive in the upmarket suburb of Highlands, in Harare. The ex-prime minister has lived there for over a year.
He moved into the house in April last year, ahead of his wedding to his second wife Elizabeth, following the mansion’s renovation for slightly over a million. It had been bought for $790 000.
Talk is that once upon a time, on a Monday morning over tea, a gentleman’s deal was reached for a “safe passage.”
The agreement stipulated that whoever lost the elections would be treated with respect. Also included in the deal, according to presidential spokesperson George Charamba, was the right of first refusal to buy the property.
Well, the elections have been lost and won. Lost by Tsvangirai and won by President Robert Mugabe, overwhelmingly.
Tsvangirai disputes the win as fraudulent. But that doesn’t change the agreement.
There was also a provision that the loser would be granted enough time to vacate the official residence.
Apparently, Tsvangirai’s departure from No 49 is now being accompanied by threats — the police will get him.
Apparently the house is now being valued at $4,5 million in a bid to frustrate him from buying it.
There are also reports that the Criminal Investigation Department is opening a fraud docket against the former prime mister and former ambassador to Germany Hebson Makuwise, a close relative of his.
The two are said to have double-dipped when they received funds from treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to buy the mansion.
This is not the first time cases from the past have been conveniently resuscitated in what may be seen as political persecution.
Some of the hawks in Mugabe’s party are allegedly itching to push Tsvangirai out.
Although the MDC spokesperson has said he thinks his leader is entitled to a “dignified exit,” some have said to avoid humiliation, Tsvangirai should return to his Strathaven house.
But as they say: A promise is a credit. If the politicians cannot honour their words to each other, how do they expect the public to believe them.
Credibility is at stake.
Ministers are said to have been allowed to buy the official cars they used at give-away prices.
Why can’t the former prime minister, as a sitting tenant, be allowed to buy the house he lived in — after a transparent evaluation?