Is it a cheap imitation; a gift from another head of state, or an insensitive show of extravagance? Whatever it is, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s briefcase has got Zimbabwean opinion sharply divided.
It all started with a Mother’s Day post put out on Mnangagwa’s Facebook page on Sunday. The tweet included a photo from the president at work in his office, hugging two of his granddaughters who paid him a visit. But there, sitting in the corner of the photo, was Mnangagwa’s designer briefcase.
Critics immediately identified it as a limited edition Louis Vuitton worth $8 600 and took Mnangagwa and his party to task.
Said lawyer and independent parliamentary candidate, Fadzayi Mahere: “Thank you for the message, Mr President. Those girls are beautiful. I wonder though – how many tomatoes a vendor would have to sell, how many salaries a doctor would have to save, how many nights one would have to queue to access cash equal to the value of your LV briefcase.”
Zimbabwe is in the throes of chronic cash shortages, and people have to queue for hours to withdraw small sums from their banks.
Doctors and nurses have been on strike over poor pay, and recently teachers threatened to boycott classes at state schools.
But some defended Mnangagwa’s briefcase as befitting a head of state.
‘His own money’
“So you wanted him to carry a satchel?” asked Golden Marozva. And @Keithkaratts added: “I don’t get this. The man has his own money which he spends whichever way he chooses. His money is not the country’s money same way the country’s money isn’t his money.”
Former first lady Grace Mugabe was renowned for her expensive tastes, earning herself the nickname “Gucci Grace”. Towards the end of her husband’s long rule that ended after a military takeover last November the Mugabes’ opulent lifestyle was glaringly at odds with the lives of most Zimbabweans.