ZIMBABWE – President Mugabe is in full control of Government and fit enough to put more man hours into his work than any of his detractors ever could, the Head of the Civil Service has said.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda told, The Sunday Mail last week that Government was not “auto-pilot” and the President remained seized with his rigorous executive schedule.
Dr Sibanda implored the media to report truthfully about President Mugabe and desist from abusing him. He also spoke of his service to the President spanning some 40 years during which time he has seen his boss’ best qualities, including his “fatherly disposition” that saw the inclusive Government (2009-2013) function cohesively against all odds.
For some time, the private media and opposition elements have speculated over President Mugabe’s health and age, claiming he was no longer capable of leading Government. Others have instinuated he had become detached from Government business.
But ahead of the President’s 92nd birthday anniversary today, Dr Sibanda told our Harare Bureau that the sole centre of power remained firmly in charge.
“He is alert, he knows what is happening. All those things (that he is no longer fit) are myths because he works — I can tell you. Sometimes he goes beyond nine o’clock or 10 o’clock. He is amazing . . . He is fit; that I can tell you because we work with him. He has a very, very tight (weekly) programme. So, whoever says (he is not fit), we don’t know. (These are) totally, totally misplaced (notions). In fact, most of these people who say so are sometimes themselves not fit. He has stamina; that I can tell you.”
Dr Sibanda said President Mugabe’s daily itinerary was packed with major engagements; from a stack of briefings to analysing proposed laws — word by word — as well as overseeing all ministers, engaging diplomats and other individuals, and also conducting international duties in Sadc, the African Union and United Nations.
The President, he said, was presently directing a massive food mobilisation to help drought-ravaged communities.
“You can, therefore, see that when some people allege that Government is auto-piloting, you don’t dignify those comments with a reply because you will be wasting your time. If you reply to blatant falsehood, you eventually engage a person. Because a person who has nothing to offer can want to take you to another level even when arguing. The best thing is to just keep quiet. That’s why some of us don’t want (to be in) the Press. It’s very rare to discuss publicly.”
He added: “When you see some people abusing such leaders because of his humility, you wonder where we came from, especially the youngsters of today. It’s our collective responsibility — the media included — to work on some of these aspects.
“We wish our media could also help us in celebrating (the President’s birthday) with everbody in a jubilant manner rather than as is the past with some sections of the media, always portraying a caricature of the person of the President. He deserves something better because he has seen it all. People should write the truth about the man of his character. He is a unique character who has been bestowed to us by God.”
On the inclusive Government, Dr Sibanda said, “As Chair of Cabinet, he managed to steer the whole process, though people were antagonistic towards each other initially. . .It was his ability to manage contradictions. They (MDC formations) started respecting President Mugabe, the leader.
“They revered him; they saw him now – that fatherly figure, that he means well, he means beyond their narrow party ideology. He is for the nation. They realised they were possibly painting the President too negatively and that was not correct. They understood the man.
“Some (after losing the elections) said, ‘If we are needed, even if it’s a Zanu-PF Government, talk to the President. Possibly we can come and serve because we want to serve.’ (They said they wanted roles) in any capacity. You could tell that it was because of how they had been handled. To me, it was amusing.”