Thomas Mapfumo Rejects Return Offer from Ex-Convict Wicknell Chivayo

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HARARE — Self-exiled Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo has firmly rejected claims that he is considering returning home following an offer of various gifts from ex-convict and alleged tenderpreneur Wicknell Chivayo.

Mapfumo, a long-time critic of the Zimbabwean government and the ruling ZANU PF party, has accused them of corruption and has been living in self-imposed exile for many years. Chivayo’s offer included a US$700,000 package consisting of a furnished house, a Toyota Landcruiser SUV, and US$100,000 in cash, which Mapfumo refused.

Rejection of the Offer

In an audio message sent to Nehanda Radio and Chivayo, Mapfumo expressed his disapproval:

“Hello Wicknell, let me tell you, please stop soiling my name. If what you think you’re doing is good, go ahead without involving my name. Don’t soil my name by talking nonsense about me. I don’t know you and I have never met you. I just heard about you on the news. I don’t hate you, just leave my name alone. Don’t play with my name. Don’t involve me in your dealings.”

Mapfumo continued, emphasizing his desire to avoid conflict:

“I don’t want to be exchanging insults with you, Wicknell. You are too young for me to be dealing with you. I am 78 years old now and cannot be seen trading insults with you. I ask you again to leave my name alone. I hear you love my music, let it end there. Don’t talk about other things. If what you think you are doing is okay, that’s okay, but leave my name alone. I don’t want to be involved in your issues. Please respect me.”

Government’s Stance

The Zimbabwean government has maintained that Mapfumo is free to return to the country. Ndavaningi “Nick” Mangwana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services, stated:

“We have had conversations with Mr. Thomas Mapfumo’s handlers, including Mukanya himself on the phone. He wants to hold his swan song in Zimbabwe but he is scared that he will be arrested. For what? Nobody is interested in him. At the culmination of the Second Republic, President ED did not declare a single Zimbabwean a persona non grata (PNG). On the contrary, he asserted every Zimbabwean’s cardinal right to come home (including during COVID-19 lockdowns).”

Mangwana reiterated that Zimbabwe is a democratic state and does not arrest people for free speech that does not break the law:

“Mr. Mapfumo and many other Zimbabweans did come home without any restrictions. Some continued their activities within and without the country afterwards. We are a democratic state and we don’t arrest people for free speech that doesn’t break our laws. Mr. Mapfumo is a soon-to-be octogenarian, and we wish him well in his remaining years. He has a lot of fans and detractors. That’s life. See you in Zimbabwe, Mukanya.”

Manager’s Involvement

Mapfumo’s manager, Sam Mataure, was earlier quoted by The NewsHawks as saying he was expecting to meet with Chivayo to discuss the offer. However, Mapfumo’s strong rebuttal in the audio message indicates his clear stance on the matter.

Mapfumo’s rejection of Chivayo’s offer underscores his commitment to his principles and his continued criticism of the Zimbabwean government, despite the tempting financial incentives.