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Penchant for luxury in midst of abject poverty

15 Aug 2021 at 08:58hrs | Views
Back in 2000 the BMW people in Harare, along Samora Machel Avenue invited a selection of business executives and motoring journalists to test-drive the first-generation BMW X5 luxury Sport Utility Vehicle or SUV, which had just been launched.

The local BMW franchiseholder had brought in two specimen of the head-turning vehicle from South Africa.

The invited guests were required to take the 4x4 SUV in pairs for a spin along Bulawayo Road to Lake Chivero and back.

I was paired with the flamboyant Phillip Chiyangwa, who had established himself as a businessman of increasingly conspicuous affluence.

By the time we arrived back at BMW I had been pumped with so much detail about his vast collection of fine motor vehicles that I felt like the poor cousin visiting from the village.

I was then the editorin-chief of the recently launched newspaper, The Daily News.

Before the launch I had been editor of my own monthly motoring journal, Highway Magazine.

To protect my threatened dignity I did my best to show off what I thought was my superior knowledge about motorcars. But Chiyangwa had the last laugh.

I took the wheel as we drove out to the lake, while he drove on the return journey.

As he enjoyed the sporty performance of the SUV, Chiyangwa casually informed me that he was taking the gleaming X5 home, meaning he wanted to add it to his collection.

Paper work done back at BMW, he drove Harare's first BMW X5 home.

By the time in 2004 when an online magazine published a detailed article on Chiyangwa's palatial mansion his 17car garage boasted of a delectable choice of cars.

It included the X5, a BMW 745, an awesome Mercedes Benz SL500 AMG, a Mercedes Benz SLK sports car, a Porsche Cayenne and a Bentley Continental.

The Cayenne was the first SUV ever built by Porsche. Chiyangwa's Cayenne arrived a few months after the model's launch back in Germany and was most certainly the first car of its kind on the African continent.

A few years later the colourful Chiyangwa added a rather garish Hummer H2 stretch limousine to his fleet.

Meanwhile, he bragged that he had launched himself into business while selling tomatoes by the roadside in the small town of Chegutu, 100km west of Harare.

That was then. Of late, while still fiercely defending his title as Harare's most conspicuously well-to-do socialite, Chiyangwa has mellowed somewhat when his collection is compared to those of youngsters that he coached, as it were.

One of them was the flashy Genius "Ginimbi" Kadungure, now late. Then there is the recently qualified hedonist of note, the self-styled Prophet Passion Java.

"What's the point of living if you don't enjoy the life," is the philosophy of hedonism.

Kadungure, may his soul rest in eternal peace, built an outrageous collection of fine cars, some of them being the ultimate in magnificent motoring.

His collection placed him at par with, if not ahead of, some of the superbly wealthy Arab oil sheikhs of the Middle East. Showing off his collection was part of Ginimbi's DNA.

Some of his cars were parked in the courtyard of his lavishly appointed mansion, built right in the midst of the abject poverty of rural Domboshava.

He died a somewhat bizarre death in the mould of his profligate lifestyle. He crashed one of his several Rolls Royce sedans after a dawn collision with a humble Honda Fit.

His funeral procession from Doves Funeral Services in downtown Harare attracted a record crowd of spectators, all scrambling for a good view of the spectacular parade of luxury limousines and sports cars. Driven by well-heeled celebrities, some of the powerful cars had come all the way from Johannesburg.

Even the hearse was imported for the occasion.

In his life the youthful Kadungure showed off to appreciative admirers an awesome collection of cars that included no less than four RollsRoyce limousines, including the Wraith in which he perished.

He was also the proud owner of five Bentleys, three of them being Continental GTs, as well as a Mulsanne and a Bentayga.

The Bentayga was proclaimed by the manufacturer to be the world's fastest production SUV when it was introduced in 2016.

For good measure Kadungure added two super sports cars to his collection, a Ferrari 488 Spider and a Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster.

He also owned a whole range of Range Rover SUVs, including a Vogue, an Autobiography and a Velar, as well as a Range Rover Sport, a Sport SVR and a Sport Lumma CSR CS

Finally, where some car owners believe they are doing exceptionally well when they have a 15-year-old Mercedes C Class parked in the garage, Kadungure possessed a whole fleet of cars bearing the three-pointed star symbol on the bonnet of the leading German luxury car.

He owned a 2016 MercedesBenz G Wagon Brabus, a 2020 AMG G63 Wagon, a 2014 S Class as well as a 2019 S Class.

Residents of Harare have since learnt to accept as their fate the pretentious lifestyles of the new class of selfproclaimed and youthful so called men of God.

They include United Family International Church (UFIC) founder Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, Walter Magaya of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD)

Ministries and new kid on the block, Passion "Twabam" Java.

He is one of the several new-age Pentecostal church leaders to emerge in Zimbabwe in recent years. He is the founder of Passion Java Ministries and Kingdom Embassy Church.

While some of their faithful followers walk long distances from the poorer suburbs of Harare, the prophets who administer to their spiritual needs arrive for church service in the latest and most stylish offerings from Mercedes Benz, Range Rover, Cadillac, Lexus or even Lamborghini and Bugatti.

"If Jesus was alive today," Makandiwa tells his staunch adherents without batting an eyelid, "he would ride around in a Mercedes Benz."

While Zimbabwe is rated as one of the poorest countries in the world, the country is said to have perhaps the largest number of Mercedes Benz per capita.

Makandiwa's most favourite ride is the massive Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG with a 6-Litre V12 Bi-Turbo power plant.

Some car fanatics claim that it is the first car of its kind to arrive on the African continent.

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*Geoffrey Nyarota is a multiple award-winning investigative journalist, who is the founding editor-in-chief of the original Daily News and editor of The Chronicle and The Financial Gazette. He can be contacted at gnyarota@gmail.com

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