Zimbabweans have been left in shock and disbelief after the ruling ZANU PF party celebrated and rewarded a convicted rapist who coined the slogan ‘Mnangagwa Huchi’ (Mnangagwa is sweet like honey) for its election campaign.
The rapist, Bobby Makaza, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping a 10-year-old girl in 2018. He had served only four years of his sentence when he was released in May 2023 under a presidential amnesty by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
On his way out of prison, Makaza shouted ‘Mnangagwa Huchi’ in gratitude to the president for setting him free. The slogan caught the attention of ZANU PF officials, who saw it as a catchy phrase to woo voters ahead of the 2024 elections.
Makaza was invited to a presidential rally in Mutawatawa, Mashonaland East province, where he was given a hero’s welcome by ZANU PF supporters wearing T-shirts printed with ‘Mnangagwa Huchi’. He was also reportedly given a house and US$700 by a government minister as a token of appreciation for his slogan.
The mother of the rape victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has approached the High Court challenging the release of Makaza under the amnesty. She said she was dismayed and disgusted by the way ZANU PF was glorifying and rewarding her daughter’s rapist.
The case has also sparked outrage and mockery on social media, where many Zimbabweans have condemned ZANU PF for its insensitivity and immorality. Some have also questioned the meaning and appropriateness of the slogan ‘Mnangagwa Huchi’, especially coming from a rapist.
Prominent journalist and critic of ZANU PF, Hopwell Chin’ono, posted on Twitter: “There are times when you think that ZANU PF can’t get any lower than it has already done, but ZANU PF shocks everyone and gets even lower into the basement. Literally from the gutter into the sewer!”
Another Twitter user, @TendaiBitiLaw, wrote: “This is beyond sickening. How can a ruling party that has been in power for 43 years and a government minister celebrate a man who raped a 10-year-old child? What does it say about their values and vision for Zimbabwe? #ZanuPFMustGo”
Some social media users also made fun of the slogan ‘Mnangagwa Huchi’, saying it was ironic and sarcastic given the economic hardships and human rights abuses that Zimbabweans have endured under Mnangagwa’s rule.
One Facebook user, Tafadzwa Moyo, commented: “Mnangagwa Huchi? More like Mnangagwa Muchi (Mnangagwa is bitter like poison). He has brought nothing but misery and suffering to Zimbabweans. He should be ashamed of himself for pardoning a rapist and using him as a campaign tool.”
Another Facebook user, Nyasha Chikwinya, commented: “Mnangagwa Huchi? Maybe for rapists like Bobby Makaza who get free houses and money from him. But for ordinary Zimbabweans who struggle to survive every day, Mnangagwa is worse than Covid-19. He is a virus that needs to be removed from power.”
The story of Bobby Makaza and his slogan ‘Mnangagwa Huchi’ has exposed the moral bankruptcy and desperation of ZANU PF as it faces growing discontent and opposition from Zimbabweans. It has also highlighted the plight and injustice faced by rape victims and survivors in Zimbabwe, who often do not get adequate support or protection from the law.