By Lionel Mpofu
The recent glimpse into the massive wealth of Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Cyril Ramaphosa, as showcased by their ownership of prized Ankole cattle, raises serious questions about the nature of their riches and the state of governance in their respective countries. The extravagant display of wealth by these leaders is concerning, particularly when many of their citizens struggle to make ends meet.
Ankole cattle, known for their long horns and status as one of the most expensive breeds in Africa, have become a symbol of opulence and power for some African leaders. Mnangagwa’s possession of over 2,000 cattle, along with hundreds of goats and chickens, suggests a level of wealth that is difficult to reconcile with the economic realities faced by the majority of Zimbabweans. Similarly, Ramaphosa’s extensive ownership of Ankole cattle, culminating in a high-profile auction that fetched millions of rands, raises eyebrows given the persistent poverty and inequality in South Africa.
The question arises: how did these leaders amass such wealth? Mnangagwa has faced accusations of looting government resources throughout his long tenure in government. Reports of his involvement in diamond and mineral looting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have tarnished his reputation. Furthermore, allegations linking him to an illegal gold mining syndicate and recent revelations of his connections to gold smuggling and money laundering only deepen concerns about his wealth accumulation. These activities not only undermine the rule of law but also exacerbate the socio-economic challenges faced by ordinary Zimbabweans.
Similarly, Ramaphosa’s wealth has drawn attention, particularly due to the reported burglary at his Phala-Phala farm that involved the theft of millions in cash. While the source of his wealth may be legitimate, the sheer scale of his ownership of Ankole cattle and the exorbitant prices they fetch at auctions raises questions about potential conflicts of interest and the fairness of economic opportunities for ordinary South Africans.
The broader issue highlighted by these displays of wealth is the prevalence of corruption and the concentration of economic power in the hands of a select few. Mnangagwa and Ramaphosa’s ostentatious lifestyles stand in stark contrast to the realities faced by their citizens, who grapple with poverty, unemployment, and inadequate public services. The gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen, undermining social cohesion and exacerbating socio-economic disparities.
Furthermore, the apparent involvement of family members and close associates in these leaders’ business interests raises concerns about nepotism and cronyism. It fosters a culture of entitlement and reinforces the perception that political power is used to enrich oneself and one’s inner circle, rather than to serve the broader public interest.
It is essential that leaders like Mnangagwa and Ramaphosa prioritize the well-being of their citizens over personal accumulation of wealth. They must demonstrate transparency and accountability in their financial affairs and take decisive action against corruption and illicit activities. It is the responsibility of the citizens to hold their leaders to account and demand equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.
The display of vast wealth by political leaders not only highlights systemic issues within their respective countries but also undermines the credibility of their leadership. The focus should be on addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality, fostering inclusive economic growth, and ensuring that the benefits of development reach all citizens. Only then can we truly achieve a society that is characterized by justice, fairness, and shared prosperity.
Opinion: The Troubling Wealth of Mnangagwa and Ramaphosa Reveals Deeper Issues
By Lionel Mpofu