When news reached Zimbabweans earlier this year that one of their greatest TV and radio personalities, Tich Mataz was now a prophet, some greeted the news with shock and disbelief.
To those who found that bit of news hard to swallow, it would have hardly seemed conceivable that the smooth, velvety voice that had electrified Zimbabwean radio sets all these years would now be used to preach a hand-me-down version of the prosperity gospel peddled by some of the country’s sprouting, designer suit wearing “Men of God”.
The video that led to the assumption about Mataz’s new trade was nothing less than comical.
In the viral video Mataz, after being prayed for by self-styled Pastor Paul Sanyangore of Victory World International Ministries Church, delivers prophesies whispered to him through his mobile phone by the man above.
Yes! Tich Mataz talked to God!
The images of Mataz, eyes shut with a phone held to his ear with a prayerful Sanyangore’s hand rested on his smooth shaven shrewd head, will live on forever in history.
“I was amazed, actually shocked. There is a living God and you have to believe. God makes things happen and there was impartation,” said Tich.
What Tich heard or did not hear is between him and his maker.
But in his hands, the smart phone had suddenly become even smarter, outpacing the brightest scientific minds who spend hours obsessing on how to improve communication.
Mataz, with the help of Sanyangore, had apparently learnt to take orders directly from God. Despite the fact that the abnormal has been the normal for a while now in many Pentecostal congregations, few would have expected Mataz, once the voice and face of a generation, to be the centre of such a comedic episode.
However, those that have followed him over the years, would have known that such encounters pop up every once in a while in the extraordinary life of the man who was born Tichafa Mantambanadzo 48 years ago.
Last week, the multi-talented media personality was hauled before the courts on charges that were initially raised against him five years ago.
Mataz is accused of defrauding Star FM of $60 000 by allegedly diverting advertising revenue to his two private firms, Hamtec and Onesay Investments, after claiming to clients that Star FM did not have the capacity to produce certain programmes.
Such accusations would be a blemish that is hard to wash off for most personalities in the public eye.
For Mataz however, this may be another inconvenience that will be brushed off in due time. After several escapes, the famous radio personality seems to be the proverbial cat with nine lives.
Mataz had danced his way through legal landmines from as far back as the 90s, when he was one of the most loved moguls and media personalities south of the Limpopo.
“He was way ahead of his time. If he was never deported from South Africa 10 years ago I have no doubt this man would be one of our South African billionaires.
Almost 20 years ago in his early twenties Tich Mataz was a trendsetter. He dressed in smart designer suits, had a mansion on the hills of Northcliff, a banging night club in Rosebank, a radio show on 5FM, and a very popular TV show on SABC,” said MoFaya founder DJ Sbu, himself a keen disciple of Mataz.
The details of Mataz’s fall in South Africa make for intriguing reading. At the heart of that epic fall is a cocktail of lies and deceit, all mixed in with a hint of good old South African xenophobia for good measure.
After working in South Africa for years, Mataz was deported on 24 March in 1998 after South Africa Home Affairs officials discovered that he had fraudulently acquired a South African identity document and had no valid working permit.
Many screamed xenophobia when the Zimbabwean, who had successfully climbed the ladder in both business and showbiz, was suddenly thrown out of a country in which he was widely loved.
Then Home Affairs spokesman Manase Makwela said interest in Mataz’s citizenship only arose when he wanted the department to issue him with a passport to travel to Burkina Faso to represent the SABC at Africa Cup of Nations.
Makwela said during their investigation, they discovered that Mataz had apparently been issued with a work permit on March 31, 1994, which was valid only until March 31, 1995, to work at BOP Broadcasting in Bophuthatswana.
He had worked and resided in South Africa illegally since then. In fact, Mataz and his wife Penelope, had been deported once before his final exile from his adopted country.
After uncovering that he was illegally in South Africa, the South African Home Affairs Department issued Mataz with a Section 41 permit on 2 March.
This permit was valid until March 16 and gave Mataz the opportunity to wrap up his business commitments before being deported on 18 March. The permit also stated that during that time Mataz should not work while in South Africa.
But he defied the conditions of the permit and worked on both Woza Weekend and Radio 5 (now 5FM) during that period.
Mataz then came back to Zimbabwe where he acquired a visitor’s permit which, in the end, turned out to be the final nail in his coffin.
“We again discovered that Mataz had lied to obtain the visitor’s visa and said he had never been deported from South Africa. This resulted in us deporting him for the second time,’’ said Makwela at the time.
Drama for Mataz would not stop with that infamous deportation. After regrouping in Zimbabwe, he was forced to turn down the job of heading television services at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), after he failed to provide the broadcaster with paperwork on academic qualifications he claimed to have acquired in South Africa.
In another dramatic episode in 2007, the embattled DJ told a South African newspaper, Sunday World, that he had landed a lucrative deal which was going to earn him R5 million as Swaziland’s 2010 World Cup consultant.
Tich claimed that he had negotiated the deal with His Majesty King Mswati III when he had stayed in that country with his Kenyan wife. However Swaziland Minister of Enterprises and Employment Lutfo Dlamini had a few choice words for Tich when he heard about his claims.
“I want to warn this South African newspaper and that Zimbabwean guy that we won’t tolerate such defamatory and derogatory comments about the King.
We have no contract with that boy, perhaps he signed one in his dreams and I’m very angry at this. How can we sign such a contract with someone not allowed into South Africa the country’s immigration authorities?” said Dlamini.
In 2009 Mataz had another date with the courts after he failed to deliver after taking payment when he was contracted by the RBZ to provide hampers for the BACOSSI program.
As he prepares for his court date on January 19 next year, Mataz faces the prospect of standing trial for two separate offenses in as many years.
Earlier this, he was convicted of import duty evasion and smuggling clothes. He was fined $300 after being found guilty of contravening Section 182 of the Excise and Control Act after he under-declared suits and shoes at the Harare International Airport after importing them from China.
For many a court appearance is a harrowing experience.
For Tich Mataz, it’s just another day in his colourful life