HARARE â€” Zimbabwe’s representative in Africa’s Big Brother reality TV show landed in second place, but took home a prize bigger than the official jackpot, a gift from President Robert Mugabe’s family.
Munyaradzi Chidzonga just lost out to Nigeria’s Uti Nwachukwu, who won the official 200,000-dollar prize from the show that locks contestants from around the continent in a house.
But on Wednesday, the 24-year-old received a 300,000-dollar cheque from President Robert Mugabe, state media said.
The money was collected through a campaign spearheaded by Harare businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, a relative and close ally of the veteran ruler, who reportedly thought the voting on the show was unfair.
It’s not clear if 86-year-old Mugabe himself actually watched the show.
“I didn’t think you would survive because you looked so young, perhaps the youngest of them all,” Mugabe told Munyaradzi as he handed over the cheque.
“It was Nigeria versus Zimbabwe and Nigeria is a very big country, so you deferred to Nigeria. But both of you won and from our point of view, for us, you were the winner.”
However, some people said the awarding of the money was a case of misplaced priorities in a country that struggles to pay teachers their meagre salaries of around 150 dollars a month.
“Once again, we are the masters of misplaced priorities,” one Shamba Shambamuto wrote in a letter to the privately owned News Day.
“If we can give this contestant a whopping 300,000 dollars, then surely we can do for our suffering masses who live in perpetual hunger, sickness and economic marginalisation.”