Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and President Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, has had an interview in the state-controlled Sunday Mail to complain about private media coverage of Zanu PF factionalism. He then issued threats that he will “control” media.
Here are a few problems we had with his long rant, which has since been widely condemned.
“Irritated, not concerned”
“I meet the President every day. He is not even worried about those reports. He is irritated by them actually. You get a feeling of irritation not of concern.”
So why a full page rant over something your boss tells you is not a concern? Are you getting angry on his behalf? Or, are you lying that he is not concerned? This is more likely, as the President himself has recently complained publicly about the press (in his speech to MPs), threatening to restrict media freedoms.
Charamba goes on: “I will recommend most effective ways of controlling errant behaviour in the newsroom. So you will have a piece of legislation that seeks to restrain rather than to enable media practices.”
Why? Over something the President is not bothered by? If readers are unhappy about media content, they will say so, and vote with their wallets. We don’t need Charamba deciding what’s good or bad for our eyes.
It was encouraging to see media speak out against Charamba. Misa-Zimbabwe described Charamba’s threats as “ill-advised and smacking of intentions to stall and scuttle the outstanding alignment of the country’s media laws with the constitutional provisions that explicitly guarantee media freedom.” Daily News rightly told Charamba to stop blaming the press for the obvious factionalism in ZanuPF.
Charamba is a civil servant
“If you are in the media and you choose to leave the media desk to become an extension of the publicity department of a political party we treat you as a politician.”
“We”? Who is the “we” he’s speaking of here?
He goes to great lengths in the interview to explain the ins and outs of how Zanu operates. This has always been the problem with George. He likes to think of himself as the brain Zanu needs to explain its philosophy. That is not your job, George. Leave that to Khaya Moyo the Zanu Information and Publicity Secretary.
“There are no factions in Zanu PF post December.”
Mugabe himself, when he came back from UN, spoke of “weevils” in his party, and also about some people who are telling his supporters to support one faction over the other. Didn’t Grace Mugabe herself in Chimanimani “launch a scathing attack” on factionalism, according to Herald of October 9? Is that not the First Lady on the front of the Herald, “decrying” factionalism?
And Prof Jonathan Moyo is always talking about “successionists” in his online posts. Is he hallucinating? Why are party members fighting over what’s printed on T-shirts ? And that video of well known Zanu members discussing factionalism? You mean only George knows the truth, and everybody else – including Mugabe and Grace – is lying?
Zimbabwe is not a monarchy
“The wife of the President is supposed to be the leader of G40. How does the wife of a sitting Head of State and therefore a sharer in the crown become the head of a faction. You already have the power; you already have the post by virtue of being the wife of the president. You are in the crown, you are the crown.”
This was a remark in which Charamba was trying to say that Grace doesn’t need to lead a faction as she already holds the power, by virtue of her being First Lady. This was not a bright moment. Zimbabwe is not a monarchy. Because Mugabe is president, it doesn’t mean Grace “shares” any of the Head of State’s power.
Charamba, listen to your boss: “Also in some churches you hear that a husband and his wife are prophet and prophetess…Because the man is a prophet, now your wife becomes a prophetess? Ah, zvino ndozvazvinoitwa here vakomana?”
Tell us, George.