Why are people infatuated with whether Tsvangirai’s zip is up or down?


The celebrity industry turns things upside down. Normally, the media is supposed to protect rape victims by not disclosing their names. But when a woman is raped by a celebrity, like Mike Tyson, the former World heavyweight boxing champion, and she decides to be named, the rules change. She too becomes a celebrity. But sometimes the media forgets to protect others just because someone has opted to be named for “personal”, if not selfish, reasons.

The same applies to small houses. No one goes on top of the roof to shout about them. But it is now becoming a trend in Zimbabwe, especially if you had a fling with, a celebrity. And the man who, it seems, cannot keep his zip up is none other than Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Ever since his wife, Susan died, women have been falling over each other to tell the nation that they have bedded the former Prime Minister. And not only that, they have a child with him. Must be a sharp shooter because every fling, or those we know of, ends with a baby!

But the infatuation with who is, or was, sleeping with Tsvangirai seems to imply that Zimbabweans have no serious issues to think or write about other than who is sleeping with whom or with which dog, donkey or cow.

When you ask about this, the excuse is that Tsvangirai is a public figure. Yes, indeed, he is, but is his sex life of public interest? And why now when he has been leader of the MDC for 15 years? Did he not sleep around before he became Prime Minister?

The definition of public interest in journalism is that, the issue must be related to having a safe, healthy and fully-functioning society.

Journalists should not normally intrude into the private lives of people unless the public figure in question is behaving differently in private from what he or she is advocating in public. In this case, media intrusion exposes hypocrisy and dishonesty, but the intrusion must be clearly shown and clearly seen to be in the wider public interest.
Does Tsvangirai’s case fit into this? This is open to debate. The problem is that some journalists often confuse what is of public interest and what interests the public. This is, in my opinion, where Tsvangirai’s case falls. Tsvangirai has never publicly claimed, as far as I know, to be a man of high morals or a one-woman person. So why should he be crucified for something he never claimed to be?

If we take all the MDC leaders and all the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leaders can we say with absolute certainty that they are all more morally upright than Tsvangirai? That they do not have small houses? That they have not impregnated women that are not their wives?

As I have stated, Tsvangirai’s escapades make interesting reading. But they must not be an infatuation where the nation keeps on watching whether his zip is up or down. His escapades do not bring food to anyone’s table except maybe the woman who decides to shout it out. The issue is, don’t we have more serious issues to discuss other than people’s sexual escapades or sexual preferences for that matter? Food for thought!


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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