Lifestyles of Zimbabwean ‘mbinga’ sign of a failed corrupt economy!

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So, another so-called ‘mbinga’ (wealthy person) in Zimbabwe has been active, once again, on social media flaunting his latest acquisitions.

By Tendai Ruben Mbofana

This time around, he bought himself the latest Maybach Benz GLS60O, and 2023 Rolls Royce Cullina – allegedly costing US$400,000 and US$800,000 respectively.

No sweat – let him spend his money the way he sees fit!

It is his, anyway, right?

Well, of course!

However, there are always some questions that need to be considered, particularly when it comes to the lifestyles of these ‘mbinga’ in Zimbabwe.

Why the frivolous and flamboyant spending?

What is this all about, and is there something else to all this?

I was just going though the various vehicles driven by some of the world’s richest people – who are clearly worth multiple times more than all our ‘mbinga’ in Zimbabwe combined – and, the results were stunning.

How many of us knew that Meta (Facebook) founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg – with a net worth of US$82.9 billion – drove around in a Honda Fit, or an Acura TSX, which he described as ‘safe, comfortable and not ostentatious’?

Then, there is Warren Buffet – CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and worth US$112.8 billion – who owns a Cadillac XTS (which he bought in 2014), and is still living in the same house he purchased in 1958 for US$31,000.

We can move on to Jeff Bezos, with a net worth of US$128.7 billion – who has a Honda Accord, which he acquired in 1997.

I could go on and on, but the question is: why these glaring discrepancies between the ‘real mbingas’ of this world, and our own wannabes in Zimbabwe?

We are never short of those boasting and showing off – as if in some competition – of the latest motor vehicles that they import into Zimbabwe, or the massive mansions they buy, or expensive high-end mobile phones, or designer labels they don.

Is this simply a matter of personal preferences and tastes, or could there be a deeper issue here?

Why would those who have far much more wealth opt for relatively simpler and more modest lifestyles than those who have less?

From the face of it, this may appear as merely a matter of low self-esteem – whereby, those who largely grew up in lack, feel the need to show the world that they have finally ‘made it big’, and were not struggling anymore.

It would seem as if they were trying to make up for all the years of need and want – and, now crave for validation as bona fide success stories!

Let us remember that those ‘real mbinga’, in such countries as the US, largely grew up relatively comfortably – and as such, do not feel the urge to prove anything, nor are they driven by a gnawing desire to make up for previous lack.

That could, indeed, be true – but, surely there must be more.

It can not be denied that those who earn their money – no matter how plentiful or little – through sheer hard honest work, are normally thrifty and cautious as to how they use it.

Thus, they are never prone to prodigal extravagant spending – being careful on what really matters in life, and what does not.

If one derives his money through dubious means, they are likely to be wasteful and never really taking care to invest in something meaningful – since, as the saying goes, ‘easy come easy go’.

Besides, as no sweat is ever broken in its attainment, and is easy cash, they can always expect more to come their way.

This is usually through corrupt underhand means – which is why some of our local ‘mbinga’ are often bogged down in courts of law over scandalous deals.

This, then, brings up another point.

In a country riddled with corruption – usually, there are very scarce genuine investment opportunities, due to a crippled economy – as such, there is not much appetite in investing what one would have acquired through suspicious activities.

Why take the risk of planting one’s ill-gotten riches in an economy that is unlikely to grow this wealth, but may actually sink it down the drain and lose it all?

Besides, if he reaped where he never sowed – why sow where he may never reap?

On top of this, since these people are nothing more than crooks, it goes without saying that they were never interested in honest business, in the first place.

So, why would they be expected to invest in anything – since they are not entrepreneurs but thieves.

In the same light, why do we appear to have a serious shortage of ‘real mbingas’ in Zimbabwe?

Save for Econet Wireless founder Strive Masiyiwa, and a handful of others – who else do we have?

Can they all not be counted on the fingers on our hands?

Does this not paint a rather troubling picture of the state of our economy – where those interested in honest business find it extremely difficult to succeed?

With an economy practically on its knees – characterized by a crippling shortage of foreign currency on the official market, an unofficial exchange rate nearing ZW$2,000 to the greenback, and a skyrocketing inflation rate – our business persons can be excused for not being all ‘real mbingas’.

This leaves room only for the corrupt and those of disreputable character to make it big, financially.

Imagine a country where even those in power survive by stealing our gold, diamonds, lithium and other precious minerals – which are smuggled out of Zimbabwe, prejudicing the nation of billions of dollars each year

There are those whose only ‘business’ is securing doubtful tenders from government and quasi-government institutions – due to their proximity to power – which are either left unfinished, or not even started, or substandard shoddy work produced, despite millions of dollars having already been paid in advance.

Surely, what business interests can they legitimately declare, in order to explain their vast unbelievable wealth?

Can any one of these local ‘mbinga’ ever detail which investments they actually have, and dare openly share their revenues and profits?

We all know how much Masiyiwa’s Econet Wireless is making, for instance – as their financial statements are freely made public.

So, what about the other ‘mbingas’?

This is what I believe explains the disturbingly high propensity to spend on cars, partying, and lovers on the part of our local ‘mbingas’ – in stark contrast to the world’s richest, who would rather re-invest in their business enterprises, whilst at the same time, planning for the future.

Is there any wonder why Masiyiwa’s investments keep expanding?

Have we ever heard of him shipping every latest luxury expensive car released, or involved in any scandal – in spite of being the richest person in Zimbabwe?

Furthermore, those who actually earn their monies through hard honest work are more likely to think of others less fortunate than themselves.

That is why we find individuals as Bill and Melinda Gates establishing foundations to assist the underprivileged, whilst others are known as generous donors and funders of similar initiatives.

Our own Masiyiwa also started the Higher Life Foundation.

Such a heart can never be expected from those whose interests are only themselves – which is what led them into corrupt activities, to begin with.

Above all these explanations, the most outstanding is that our local ‘mbinga’ are evidence of a failed corrupt economy – which makes room for all manner of questionable dealings.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: