HomeEditorial CommentEditor's desk: When surrogate power vanishes: Ask Kunonga!

Editor’s desk: When surrogate power vanishes: Ask Kunonga!

Not so long ago, an Elder at an Anglican parish in Harare passed on and was going to be buried at a cemetery designated for people who had contributed much to the church.

Comment By Nevanji Madanhire Editor

After all the rites had been observed and the cadaver dressed up and placed in the casket ready for the last trip, who emerges but an emissary of Nolbert Kunonga’s. No, the Elder can no longer be buried at the special cemetery because the cemetery now belongs to Kunonga.

The body had to be taken back to the mortuary while alternative burial arrangements were worked out.

Such was the power Kunonga had assumed for himself, it was like he had power over life and death. But everyone who knew how power works knew Kunonga’s power was sham; much like the power of a petrol attendant during a fuel crisis! Remember how this poor chap suddenly becomes a god, making company CEOs jump, (determining even how high they jumped) before he pours the precious liquid into their Mercedes Benzes!

It’s called surrogate power; the power given unto an individual, to bear and to wield, by a circumstance.

Let me compare this to surrogate motherhood. The surrogate mother carries and delivers a child for another woman who may not be able to carry the child herself. A fertilised egg is usually inserted into the womb of the woman, where it develops and is then delivered.


The surrogate mother is often paid for her services but once the child is born, it is handed over to its genetic mother.


The surrogate mother suffers all the burdens of pregnancy and the pangs of labour, but the child is not hers and she will not have any residual interest in it when she has delivered it.

She may bask in the pride of womanhood when she is carrying the baby in her womb and may revel in the feelings of motherhood as the foetus plays around in her womb. But the child is not hers because she has been paid for her pains. One can imagine the emptiness the surrogate mother feels on handing over the child to its genetic mother!

The pain of surrogate motherhood is in its transiency; so must be the pain of surrogate power! When fuel becomes readily available, the petrol attendant resorts to his servile role and offers to clean everyone’s windscreen and check the air in their wheels. The motorist tells the attendant to jump and the attendant now asks how high!

But Kunonga should hang his head in shame. He was probably paid for his services by the offer of a free farm and the support of the security services.


Whoever gave him the surrogate power probably thought by using the highly emotive issue of homosexuality, Kunonga would bring all the Anglicans along and translate each one of them into a vote.


The Anglicans saw through all this and refused to budge. It was a troublesome surrogate pregnancy for him and in the end, the child was not even delivered.

But Kunonga is hardly the only person who has wielded surrogate power during the subsistence of the Zimbabwean political crisis; that is why his dramatic fall should be a salutary lesson to those among us who have gone to extremes at the service of those in power who use them to fight their own battles. Examples of these abound.

A case in mind are those who on a daily basis commit acts of political violence on behalf of certain individuals who pay them for their services but when the long arm of the law stretches out, the masters are nowhere to be seen.

It may not just be the long arm of the law, for that is sometimes an ass, but traditional justice, as in the Gokwe case where some individuals used the same assumed power to murder political opponents but were left alone in the face of the vengeful wrath of an angry spirit. [The Shona people believe in ngozi and even rocket science cannot change them on this belief.]

When Kunonga is eventually called upon to pay for his misdeeds, such as the failure to pay rates and power bills, the genetic mother of his transgressions will be nowhere to be found.


The worst that can happen to him is to lose his home to the hammer to raise the US$300 000 or more that his faction owes everybody.

The Kunonga and Gokwe cases are the two extremes in a country that has been torn apart by the lack of the rule of law. In between them are a plethora of other cases that will yet be brought to book.


There are the transgressions of paramilitary groups in suburbs, the violence said to have been perpetrated by people in the uniformed forces over the years and other crimes that have been committed in the name of certain individuals or parties.


Corruption is one such crime; many politicians have taken advantage of the lax observance of the law and the patronage system to enrich themselves overnight in an openly criminal manner. But the chickens will eventually begin to come home to roost!

But what has Kunonga done to the image of the heterosexual male in Zimbabwe? That it’s cool to rape children in orphanages?


That it’s cool to turn churches into brothels and destroy monuments to our education and civilisation such as St. Augustine’s Mission by looting the money parents have paid to see their children through school?


That it’s cool to kick old women and their children out of church buildings so that they pray under trees where they are at the mercy of the elements?


That one can bar the whole world from their annual pilgrimage to one of the world’s most important shrines, just for the sake of massaging one’s own ego? All this in the name of fighting homosexuality of which not a single case he has brought to the open!

The Zimbabwean crisis is the Hydra, the snake-like monster which in Greek folklore had uncountable heads, which when one was cut several grew in its place. The Zimbabwean crisis has manifested itself in politics, sport, the arts, and, God bless Zimbabwe, in the church.


Kunonga’s demise will be replaced by other more complex problems. But only the restoration of the rule of law and its observance will lay the foundation for the resolution to the crisis.

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