MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai’s Highlands house has become a subject of frequent media speculation, with much of the details based on malice and gossip and far removed from the truth surrounding the property.
For the umpteenth time last week, the Zimbabwe Independent, published a story of the house in which the newspaper speculated that Tsvangirai would be evicted because he was failing to maintain it.
A few facts about the house would help in dousing the frenzied media speculation.
Firstly, it is true that the house is state property governed by a contract in which Tsvangirai has the right of first refusal. After evaluation by the state, Tsvangirai would decide if he has the money to buy the property whose actual value is far below the millions the media frequently bandies about.
The house was bought for US$790 000 before renovations and even then, Tsvangirai paid a substantial amount from his own pocket as part of the deposit on the property, which money is yet to be reimbursed by the state.
So even though the house is indeed state property bought for him as part of his privilege as prime minister of Zimbabwe during the inclusive government era, what is lost in the convoluted media narrative is the fact that the MDC leader’s money was part of the initial deposit paid to the original owner of the house.
In reality, because of his personal investment towards the procurement of the property, Tsvangirai must not be treated as an ordinary tenant of the state property as (President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman) George Charamba seemed to suggest in his usual pomposity in comments captured in your story last week.
The whole media narrative seems too desperate to reflect a materialistic man who wants to live large.
Once again, lost in your story is the fact that true leaders do not come any better than Tsvangirai, who spent three years staying in his house in Strathaven, Harare, even though he was prime minister of the country, transacting state business every day. While vice-presidents and other senior officials in government are allowed to buy houses at a pittance and received brand new all-terrain vehicles during their tenure in government, all Tsvangirai received for his transport was a second hand maroon Mercedes-Benz.
And this when he was supposed to be sharing executive power with the president, according to the Global Political Agreement.
He did not make an issue out of it because for him, the people’s welfare is more important than the welfare of their leaders.
To even suggest that Tsvangirai is not looking after the property well is mischief on the part of your reporter. There is full-time staff that looks after the MDC leader’s Highlands home.
To suggest that the former prime minister should find bulk water for the lawn at his house is to under-estimate the water crisis facing the residents of Harare in Mabvuku, Epworth and other areas.
Tsvangirai’s house is a personal issue between him and the state as reflected in a contract discussed with the president.
To make big news about a house that is subject to a private contract at a time the nation is in the throes of a debilitating economic crisis is to completely miss the point.
At this point in time, given the magnitude of the crisis we are facing as a nation, the assumed neglect of Tsvangirai’s house cannot deserve more media attention than civil servants without a predictable pay day and an economy on the edge of a precipice.
A responsible newspaper cannot prioritise what it assumes to be neglected lawn outside Tsvangirai’s house at the expense of our sad national predicament. Media cannot afford the luxury of prioritising issues of lawns and un-swept lounge corners of people’s homes at the expense of the national crisis.
While it is understandable that newspaper billboards with the MDC leader’s name can guarantee high sales and high revenue for our troubled print media, the abuse of Tsvangirai’s name has gone too far.
Next time, in your desperation to paint a picture of the so-called neglect of the ex-premier’s home, you may want to tell us how many cockroaches are roaming free inside the “mansion” as the former prime minister struggles to procure pesticide!
Come on guys, we have a serious crisis and the only negligence everyone can see is that of a country with a clueless leadership and a president’s wife who has completely gone berserk!
Indeed, a political party with a leadership that has neglected all our problems while prioritising factionalism and internal fights at the expense of solving the monumental crisis we face as a nation.
Tamborinyoka is the presidential spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change led by Tsvangirai (MDC-T).