Big Brother loser gets R2m winning cheque from Mugabe

2010-10-22 13:10

Zimbabwe’s representative in Africa’s Big Brother reality TV show landed in second place, but took home a prize bigger than the official jackpot, a gift from President Robert Mugabe’s family.

Munyaradzi Chidzonga just lost out to Nigeria’s Uti Nwachukwu, who won the official $200 000 (R1.4 million) prize from the show that locks contestants from around the continent in a house.

But on Wednesday, the 24-year-old received a $300 000 cheque from Mugabe, state media said.

The money was collected through a campaign spearheaded by Harare businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, a relative and close ally of the veteran ruler, who reportedly thought the voting on the show was unfair.

“I didn’t think you would survive because you looked so young, perhaps the youngest of them all,” Mugabe told Munyaradzi as he handed over the cheque.

“It was Nigeria versus Zimbabwe, and Nigeria is a very big country, so you deferred to Nigeria. But both of you won and from our point of view, for us, you were the winner.”

However, some people said the awarding of the money was a case of misplaced priorities in a country that struggles to pay teachers their meagre salaries of about $150 a month.

“Once again, we are the masters of misplaced priorities,” one Shamba Shambamuto wrote in a letter to the privately-owned News Day.

“If we can give this contestant a whopping $300 000, then surely we can do for our suffering masses who live in perpetual hunger, sickness and economic marginalisation.”

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