Meet Zimbabwe’s very own Kenny Kunene

2011-11-19 15:36

Zimbabwean property mogul Philip Chiyangwa does not have power or respect, but his money may very well be able to buy it.
Branded the “Kenny Kunene of Zimbabwe”, Chiyangwa is known for his bling parties and ostentatious living.

Chiyangwa says he is a brand that can keep Zanu-PF in power and that his money is part of that equation. “My personality can win votes for the party. I’ll defend Zanu- PF with all that I can use, so help me God,” he says.

He was disgraced by his alleged involvement in espionage – selling state secrets to foreign governments in exchange for cars and money.

He was acquitted, purportedly because he is President Robert Mugabe’s nephew, but his political career went down
the drain.

After being readmitted into the party at the lowest ranks, he declared his interest in returning to Parliament after a hiatus of six years in the political wilderness.

Power and respect is what Chiyangwa dreams of, and he knows his money can buy it. In the past year he made public appearances where he would throw money at crowds à la Gaddafi. He also appears in movies and records music.

Chiyangwa believes he can bring back the youth vote into Zanu-PF. “I’m a role model to most young people who want to make it in life, and I appeal to most of them. Zanu-PF needs them and we need them to make the dream come true,” he says.

Last year he started a trust fund to the tune of $300 000 (R2?469?903) to pay Munyaradzi Chidzonga, Zimbabwe’s 2010 Big Brother runner-up.

Funding Chidzonga was part of the Chiyangwa campaign trail. Since then Chidzonga has been roped in as a youth ambassador by Zanu-PF.

He has gone the extra mile in working with Chidzonga in producing movies. He also built a private school with Zanu-PF’s blessing.

His most spectacular stunt to date was when he drove through the centre of Harare in his customised Rolls-Royce Phantom – one of the only two in Zimbabwe – and started giving money to anyone who recognised him.

He even threw some money into the crowd for good measure. This earned him the name Mudara, meaning “cool old timer”, from the youth.

Analysts say his return to politics is part of a small faction within Zanu-PF called the Third Way campaign, which wants to establish a base in the succession race. The Third Way is led by Minister of Indigenisation Savior Kasukuwere.

Says Mike Chidengwe, a political analyst: “He’s working with Kasukuwere – although Kasukuwere is younger than Chiyangwa. The latter identifies himself with young blood and that’s where the future of Zanu-PF is.”

University of Zimbabwe political scientist Professor John Makumbe says Chiyangwa will not add value to the already sinking ship that is Zanu-PF, but his money will.

“It’s a known fact that Zanu-PF is broke financially as a party, but individuals like Philip Chiyangwa have the financial muscle to fund the party’s programmes, such as its national congress expected for December, and campaign for next year’s polls,” he says.

“But as an individual he doesn’t have political clout. In fact, he’s one of the people who will fast-track Zanu-PF into oblivion.”

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