Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Presidential spokesperson and Press secretary Mr George Charamba has dismissed claims peddled in the private media that President Mugabe snubbed the funeral of his wife, Idaishe Olivia Chengu-Charamba, who succumbed to liver complications last Sunday.
Mr Charamba said he received overwhelming support from the First Family during his time of bereavement.
A story in the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday quoted faceless Government sources giving a phantom narrative, claiming that President Mugabe’s physical absence at the funeral of Mrs Chengu-Charamba was a culmination of perceived fallout between Mr Charamba and First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe.
Both President Mugabe and Dr Mugabe sent their wreaths that were laid at Mrs Chengu-Charamba’s tomb on burial day in Mutorashanga on Tuesday.
Reacting to the distasteful claims that largely bordered on sheer fabrication and complete disregard of journalistic ethics, Mr Charamba said the First Family sent an emissary to console him and his in-laws.
Over and above that, Mr Charamba said he was humbled by the support he received from the First Family that included foodstuffs, that lessened the funeral burden on the two families.
“Let it be known that the burial day coincided with Cabinet,” he said.
“Just to show how supportive the President and the First Lady were, they allowed a significant part of Cabinet to come and join us in bidding farewell to my wife.
“I am not even talking about the fact of having Vice Presidents, Cabinet ministers and virtually everyone else who came to console us.
“Really, there may be some political or journalistic readings and you guys are entitled to that, but as the two families, we are extremely happy with the levels of sympathies and support that we got from the First Family.
“The fact of being the President’s press secretary does not create an entitlement to me, and any goodness that flows my way from the First Family comes from their sheer humanity and graciousness and I am most thankful for that.”
In any case, Mr Charamba said, the President had a crowded week that included a high profile visit by King Letsie III of Lesotho where he was supposed to play a direct role.
Said Mr Charamba: “The only other time that the President got leave of the King was when he had to chair Cabinet and this is against the fixture of the King that took him to Victoria Falls.
“More importantly, the First Family sent an emissary to the Charamba and Chengu families to console with us. They sent food stuffs that lightened our burden.”
To buttress the fact that President Mugabe had a crammed week, Mr Charamba said two Government programmes (the commissioning of Tokwe Mukosi dam and the dualisation of Beitbridge-Harare highway) were also collapsed into one day because the President also had an international fixture that he had to fulfil.
Mr Charamba explained why President Mugabe and the First Lady sent separate wreaths saying: “They sent flowers and clearly I don’t know where the confusion on flowers is coming from.
“The President as Head of State and Government had his wreath laid. My wife’s mother is an office holder in the party in Mutorashanga and it was appropriate for the First Lady in her capacity as Secretary of Women Affairs in zanu-pf to send her wreath.”