ZIMBABWE – Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba has rapped Zanu-PF successionists claiming to be behind the First Family when in actual fact they harbour their own presidential ambitions.
In an interview with ZiFM Stereo yesterday, Mr Charamba said it was a matter of time before the successionists faced their comeuppance.
He said it was disheartening that the issue of succession in Zanu-PF was being parroted by party officials who instead must be pushing the party’s agenda.
“In the first place, who says President Mugabe won’t be there for 2018?” queried Mr Charamba.
“Here are these ‘God’s deputies’ who know when Mugabe will die, who can tell who should not be Vice President and who should be? Who can tell who must succeed Mugabe when they have killed him off?
“And meanwhile, we must accept that they are not ambitious themselves, they don’t want to be Vice Presidents themselves, but they know who must not be. They don’t want to be President themselves, but they know who must not succeed and when that does not succeed, who does?’
Mr Charamba said only President Mugabe had the mandate to appoint the party and Government leadership, including Vice Presidents.
He said attempts to frame a discourse around removing either of the Vice Presidents was in fact trying to usurp President Mugabe’s powers.
“I am speaking as the spokesperson of the President,” said Mr Charamba.
“The President of Zimbabwe, acting on the outcome of the (Zanu-PF) Congress, appointed two Vice Presidents in 2014 — Vice President Mnangagwa and Vice President Mphoko.
“This agrees with our Constitution. This agrees with the outcome, with the Zanu-PF congress. This agrees with the values of Zanu-PF, particularly values borne out of the Unity Accord. The President is the appointing authority and he has given us two Vice Presidents.
“Who is the guilty party, the one who asks a little civil servant why he is working with this or that Vice President or the one who comes forth and says, ‘hey little civil servant, don’t like this Vice President, like this one?’ Is he not substituting the President as the appointing authority?
“There are many sinister minds who speak in the name of the President, who are in fact successionists and it won’t be long before the headlines give you the story. Some have been meeting nicodemously with the People First, but they are still in Zanu-PF.”
Mr Charamba said the current discourse on factionalism in Zanu-PF was being pushed by some party officials who had their own ambitions.
“Here are little men with absolutely no iota of history behind them thinking they can one day emerge as leaders of this country with their little minds thinking baldness is age, it isn’t,” he said.
“The Constitution of Zimbabwe is as clear as daylight. One tragedy of those little fellas, and I call them little fellas, they confuse media skills with social skills. They think you can scale up a political ladder by tweeting, who think when you manipulate one or two headlines, you have a social base for launching your stupid ambitions, they will come to grief, get it from me.
“I am not speaking as a permanent secretary but President Mugabe’s press secretary.”
Mr Charamba said the same factionalists were abusing the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe’s name to push their own agendas, but warned that their time would be up soon.
Mr Charamba, who is also permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, said the First Family was aware of the maneuvers of the successionists, but would let them entangle themselves.
“How does the First Lady talk about succession of her husband, does it make sense to you?” he said. “These are people who think by sheer proximity, they can build messages around the First Family. They are fools, get it from me, they are big fools and I hope someday they will come back to their senses.
“It tells you big book minus social skills comes to grief. Getting learned and getting educated are different things. What I am seeing here is a projection of high learning and poor social skills.
“You don’t scale up to the level of secretary for Women’s League without having a political sense. As I said, this is the First Family, they will allow you a very long rope, but there is a limit. You can’t keep stretching the rope, at some point, the knot will tighten. I know what must stop, it is this tomfoolery.”
Mr Charamba said he could not keep quiet while successionists were discussing President Mugabe’s tenure.
He said he was not moved by attempts by successionists to tarnish his image by claiming that he was a factionalist.
“My boss’ tenure is being discussed by his juniors and this is what makes me angry,” said Mr Charamba. “When you point that out they give you a faction. They sit there with some little newsmen, compose headlines, repeat arguments that they were saying when they were working with me and they think they are being discreet.
“They think we don’t see that. The tragedy is to try and be clever than the people. To think that you are the brightest brain around, that’s tragic. But something must give in now. I am having to fend off bad press from within Zanu-PF not from MDC, but from within Zanu-PF 24/7, from my own fellow party members, yes I am a civil servant, but I am Zanu-PF.
“They sit in the Politburo and I sit there as an official and I know what goes on there. Then following day, not only have they leaked the stuff, but they do so in their poor English, which I know and I am supposed to sit there like a Happy Buddha and keep my mouth mum when they are discussing the fate of the President, my boss, botching the subject of succession on whose behalf? How do you advance a Zanu-PF agenda by speaking about its own termination?”
Mr Charamba was also asked if he was the columnist under the pen name Nathaniel Manheru that is published by The Herald on Saturdays saying people must not spend their time inquiring about who the author was but the message.
“Why do the founders of journalism accept and commission such a tradition (of using pen names)?” he said. “The answer is very simple. Mind the ideas and not the hand that writes them. It is meant to maximise circulation of ideas, maximise debate on issues without being trammeled by the identity of the writer.
“So, I cry for this country when it looks for the identity of the hand and ignores the identity of the thought because that is what must concern the society. I can assure you there is no Nobel Prize for guessing who Manheru is and tell those stupid politicians that there is no trophy in guessing who Manheru is.”
Even though Mr Charamba did not mention the names of the successionists, snippets of his interview that were aired by ZiFM throughout the day to advertise the full interview that was aired at 19:15hours drew furious tweets from Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development minister Professor Jonathan Moyo who said, among other things, ‘’George Charamba’s media voices are no longer of a civil servant but of a politician in aid of a desperate faction. That’s unacceptable!..
‘’George Charamba must not abuse his civil servant role as Info Perm Sec to serve successionists. That will be resisted as it was in 2014!’’