By Simplicius Chirinda
Harare, August 27, 2013 – On August 23, 2013, something profound happened at the National Sports Stadium. It was the day that President Robert Mugabe was inaugurated back into office to serve his seventh tenure since 1980 but that was not the measure of profoundness on the day. Yes, he was surrounded by his fellow octogenarians from Southern African countries but it is the manner in which all of them lined up to congratulate him that caught the eye.
The routine was not exclusive to the National Sports Stadium as a flurry of messages congratulating President Robert Mugabe on his re-election in local media followed unabated up to today.
It has since become a mini-boom for the newspaper industry. The privately owned Daily News newspaper saw first an opportunity to make money out of Mugabe. It led with a Robert Mugabe inauguration congratulatory supplement. Quite unusual for a newspaper that is usually critical of the Zanu PF leader.
Several other newspapers followed suit. So did radio and television stations. With each advert costing anything between $150 and $1 000 it was a huge boon for the media industry as almost all state parastatals including those struggling to justify their existence kowtowed to Mugabe with congratulatory messages.
It was like a stampede as no one in central government and the parastatal community wanted to be left out in conveying their congratulatory messages despite the shoestring budgets they operate under. This time around even private players and churches that are usually not swayed into this political game had no option but to also line up with congratulatory messages to the dear leader.
Leading the salivating messages have been the Benza Brothers who must have used a fortune just to have their congratulatory voices head the most.
Most visible were the Benza Brothers now famously known as the “Mutasa twins” because of the numerous adverts that they have been flighting in the newspapers and on the state run television station, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation since Mugabe was inaugurated.
“Congratulations makorokoto amhlope- the Benza Brothers join Zimbabweans from all walks of life including youths, students, men, women, people with disabilities, older citizens, civil servants, workers and everyone else in congratulating His Excellency, the Head of State and Government, Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and First Secretary of Zanu PF Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe following his resounding victory in the just ended 2013 harmonised elections. We wish you all the best once more as you guide the nation to prosperity,” said the Benza brothers in their congratulatory message issued across all media.
Even some long forgotten bodies took the opportunity to swing back to life.
“The chairperson, councillors and secretariat of NAMACO would like to extend their warm congratulations to His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe on resoundingly winning the just ended presidential election,” read a message flighted in weekend newspapers by the National Manpower Advisory Council (NAMACO).
And the usual suspects were in their obvious element.
“Mbada Diamonds board, management and staff congratulate the first Secretary of Zanu PF, Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, His Excellency Cde Robert G Mugabe and Zanu PF for their landslide victory during Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections,” read a message by Mbada Diamonds, a company for long accused of failing to remit the much needed diamond revenue to the national treasury.
Marange Resources could not be left out in the battle for the diamond giants.
“The chairman, board, management and staff of Marange Resources wishes to congratulate His Excellency, Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief and the entire Nation on his inauguration as the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe following a resounding victory in the 2013 harmonised elections held on July 31,” Marange Resources wrote in its media advert.
Obert Mpofu, famed for being Mugabe’s ever obedient son’s Ministry of Mines and Mining Development wished well saying, “We wish you well in charting Zimbabwe to greater heights.”
However, it was quite telling that ministries presided by outgoing MDC-T ministers had their messages signed off by permanent secretaries and not the outgoing ministers.
Other light weights such as the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) were also in the mix.
“The President, Mr Wonder Chabikwa , the National Executive and members of staff of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union congratulate Cde RG Mugabe for being the elected president of the republic of Zimbabwe. May God continue to guide you leading the nation,” the farmers group said.