THE personality, privacy and lifestyle of Bikita West MP, Munyaradzi Kereke is being scrutinised under public glare in his on-going trial for allegedly raping and indecently assaulting his two nieces in 2010 then aged 10 and 15.
The rich and politically influential are normally shielded from the public’s prying eyes by the high walls surrounding their houses and hordes of security details that accompany them everywhere.
But these have been stripped away from Kereke and the trial magistrate says the legislator brought this upon himself by bringing other people under scrutiny when he had the platform in the same court.
The former personal advisor to ex-Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono was a powerful person with a colourful life. His power and authority was expansive, particularly between 2005 and 2010 when the central bank was involved in quasi-fiscal activities. The bank was the engine of all economic and political activities in the country.
Kereke’s trial is a culmination of a brutal and financially draining four-year litigation as the MP used every available loophole to avoid his day in court.
The complainants and their guardian Francis Maramwidze finally won the battle in November last year when the Constitutional Court ruled the family had the right to privately prosecute Kereke over the allegations as there was sufficient evidence for him to be placed on his defence.
Kereke is cutting a forlorn figure at the Harare Magistrates Court as he comes only in the company of his lawyers from Mutandiro and Partners. The aura is gone, but at least he still comes clad in designer suits and his trade mark bald head and heavy beard.
Under cross examination by the private prosecutor Charles Warara, Kereke has told the court that his appearance [bald head and beared] is influenced by his religion as a member of the Johane Marange apostolic sect.
Kereke has told the court he is a polygamist with three wives and several children. He said polygamy is permissible in his church and that the constitution too, allowed it.
Warara had charged that Kereke is a person who enjoys multiple and concurrent sexual relationships as he had many wives even before joining the apostolic sect at the close of 2009. Kereke admitted that in his life he has been married to five women but said he has since divorced two, including his former workmate Jocelyn Karati.
The prosecutor had also provided evidence claiming that Kereke was a man of a violent disposition and was once convicted of firearm abuse.
Kereke vehemently denied being violent, but the prosecution proved that the MP was once arrested in 2007 after discharging a firearm at Flamboyant Hotel in Masvingo in a heated domestic dispute with Karati.
The court has also learnt the extent of Kereke’s wealth. He owns four houses in Harare’s leafy northern suburbs, two state-of-the-art hospitals, a farm in Chinhoyi and substantial shareholding in a funeral services company.
When challenged to explain how he managed to amass such wealth on his $5 000 monthly salary as then RBZ governor’s advisor, Kereke was evasive. He said he applied and got bank loans based on his goodwill and financial projections of his business plans.
“I don’t own all that. It is owned by my family Trust for which I am only a chairman,” Kereke said.
Warara remarked that it was unusual for Kereke not to steal when everyone surrounding him at the bank was stealing.
“So you could only steal papers from the bank when everyone else, according to your evidence, was stealing money?” Warara sarcastically remarked to laughter from the gallery.
Kereke also laid bare his political connections and activities in the court.
“I became a politician mid-1998. I didn’t become a politician after the rape allegation. I was a card-carrying member of Zanu PF in Bikita,” Kereke told the court.
The influential MP also told the court how much he was linked to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) through his work.
“I know how the CIO operates. I interact with them and in my constituency in Bikita I meet them monthly,” he said.
Kereke seems to have a good number of enemies in high offices. He lists Gono, former VP Joice Mujuru, CIO director general Happyton Bonyongwe and Maramwidze among his political enemies.
After saying a lot about David Butau as the person who confessed to him the political machinations in the rape allegations plot, Kereke surprised the gallery when he said he, however, did not want Butau summoned to testify.
Warara then enquired how Kereke knew what Butau would say in court to which he responded: “I know because I dream a lot.”
The trial continues this week with Kereke’s lawyers cross-examining him.