By Theresa Nkala
HARARE — One of most watched video clips yesterday was that of President Emmerson Mnangagwa dancing to Jah Prayzer’s “Mudhara Achauya” at some function somewhere in Zimbabwe.
Not because of his dancing prowess; he is no Nelson Mandela or Jacob Zuma, who always mesmerised people each time they took to the dance floor.
It was not his flapping of arms and un-coordinated moves that attracted ridicule from Zimbabweans. No.
The president was wearing a shiny brown suit, pale lounge shirt, complemented by the usual dreadful scarf — the scarf he wears even in high temperatures — and white-soled black shoes.
Contrast that with his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, who always made sure he wore well-co-ordinated colours before he left the State House.
The first hint of Mnangagwa’s lack of style was on show some two years ago, when he met the then president of Botswana, Ian Khama, and the Zambian leader Edgar Lungu in Kazungula for the ground-breaking ceremony of the new bridge. Lungu was wearing a smart dark suit with lilac shirt, a matching tie and black shoes.
Khama chose a smart grey blazer, blue shirt, a matching tie, a pair of black trousers and black shoes. Our president decided to wear a smart chequered blazer, blue shirt, light-green slacks and hiking tan boots! Despite the sizzling hot temperatures in Kazungula, the president still had his beloved scarf around his neck.
Zimbabweans could not help but compare him with the ZTV drama actor Paraffin, whose woollen hat and scarf was his trademark.
In today’s media-saturated world, it is important to portray the image of politicians, especially presidents, in the best possible way. Like actors and others celebrities, presidents all over the world, employ stylists and other image consultants. However, it seems the business of dressing Mnangagwa has a unique set of problems. Those in the know say Mnangagwa is arrogant and often brushes aside his staff’s suggestions about dressing. They say each morning, his stylists prepare clothes, co-ordinating the colours well but when the president wakes up, he grabs whatever is near him and wears for work.
Mnangagwa has a lot of people around him to learn from. He could learn from his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, who always dresses for the occasion, even his wife, Auxillia, who looked dapper at some virtual international conference last week. Or, he could just do himself a favour by listening to his stylists.
Then, we will stop seeing a president who looks like Paraffin the Clown.