The following are excerpts of the interview Presidential spokesperson, Mr George Charamba (GC) had with Garikayi Fadzi (GF) of ZiFM. The interview was aired last night.
Gari Fadzi: Mr Secretary there is a rumour, almost in every newsroom, that you run a column in The Herald every Saturday by the name Nathaniel Manheru The Other Side. Can you confirm that you are the author of that column?
GC: No I cannot confirm. I don’t have to be the author. I happen to know the guy, he is a good guy and he is a Siamese twin. We come from the same womb. We suckled from the same breasts and our minds are the same.
GF: And that same guy, he has now been caught up in succession issues in the country. He is alleged to be siding with one of the VPs, who happens to be E. D Mnangagwa
GC: Pity him, he has my prayers. He has my prayers. And I hope he makes it to heaven (laughs).
(But) Seriously, the tradition of having thoughts explored, expressed, projected under a pen name is a well-established one. You would know someone called Bergliot in the 16th or 17th century. I can’t quite remember now. It was a pen name. There are so many pen names. You go to The Economist, they do not even give you the name of a single writer, have you noticed? The magazine?
Why do the founders of journalism accept and commission such a tradition? 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 trammelled 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. Tell them.
GF: They are saying he is harbouring ambitions to succeed a sitting President.
GC: Well, let me put that in context. And I am not speaking on behalf of Manheru, let Manheru answer for himself, and he does so every Saturday I am sure.
I am speaking as the spokesperson of the President. The President of Zimbabwe acting on the outcome of the congress appointed two Vice Presidents in 2014. Vice President Mnangagwa and Vice President Mphoko. This agrees with our Constitution. This agrees with the outcome of the Zanu-PF Congress. This agrees with the values of Zanu-PF, particularly values born 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? So watch it.
There are many sinister minds that 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. But it won’t be long. That’s where that prophet or prophetess called Manheru becomes very useful.
GF: How soon is soon?
GC: No! The speed with which the headline will come depends on the speed of the folly of those that are doing so.
GF: These people are now crucifying your person.
GC: Do not worry about my person. I am very safe but more fundamentally, I am on the right, I am on the right. You can’t have the discourse on succession coming from within Zanu-PF. Which party with a vision to long term leadership talks about its change? Does that make sense to you? Here is a party which is in Government. Here is a party which has a leader taking a lead in discussing succession, you wish for your own change? Does that make sense? In the first place, who says Mugabe won’t be there for 2018?
GF: And who says he will die first before all of us?
GC: Exactly. And who 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 that one who must not succeed has not succeeded, who does?
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. The Constitution of Zimbabwe is as clear as daylight. What you have are perverted minds that think they can re-write. . .
You see here is 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; through a tweeter, without knowing that they are tweeting themselves to eternity.
Who think when you manipulate one or two headlines, you have a social base for launching your stupid ambitions, they will come to grief, they will come to grief get it from me. I am not speaking as a permanent secretary but President Mugabe’s Press secretary.
GF: Riding on your proximity to the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, there is the succession issue being discussed.
GC: My boss’ tenure is being discussed by his juniors, does it make sense to you? And this is exactly what makes me angry. 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. Their fangled hands everywhere, come on. . . The tragedy is to try and be clever than the people. To think that you are the brightest brain around, that’s tragic. But you see something must give in now, something must give in now. We can’t have this. I am having to fend off bad Press from within Zanu-PF not from MDC but from within Zanu-PF 24/ 7 mulling about how to handle bad Press 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 the 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 broaching the subject of succession on whose behalf? How do you advance a Zanu-PF agenda by speaking about its own termination?
GF: And how is your boss taking it now knowing that you have worked with these people, now they are feeding the private Press to humiliate you and your boss?
GC: No. I don’t think I come into the equation. No one humiliates me. That’s the beauty about it, no one humiliates me at all. They think they have humiliated me, right, but they are far from it.
I think what they need to worry about is their own careers, not me. The President is not a character who rushes. He will allow you a very long rope, you prance about, enjoying meaningless headlines and thinking you are on top of the world, but it will take just one afternoon.
GF: We have people, I do not know if you can say they are abusing the name of the First Lady, but they are using it to harbour their own political ambitions.
GC: How does the First Lady talk about succession of her husband? Does it make sense to you? 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. What I am seeing here is a projection of high learning and poor social skills.
GF: But some people will say all of a sudden she is now into politics.
GC: Not all of a sudden.
GF: She is Secretary for Women’s Affairs. . .
GC: But not suddenly. And those who think are her defenders have said absolutely nothing. They want to spend lots of their editorial time which they steal from editors, talking about succession, yet she is being attacked, right! Here is the brutal truth. There is a ceremony we call hand-over ceremony.
You can have your item to present to a community. You can pick on a VIP who officially hands over to that community. If being asked by the Minister of Agriculture to go and handover a tractor to a community in Muzarabani amounts to an abuse of State property. . .
GF: Wearing party regalia?
GC: She belongs to a party and the Minister comes from a party. This is a Government which is born out of Zanu-PF, the party. So in the beginning was the party. I hope she doesn’t apologise. If she does I will tell her she does not owe anyone an apology. She is doing a ritual of handing over equipment at the invitation of the Minister of Agriculture. I challenge anyone to go to court. I challenge anyone to press it anywhere. And in any case I don’t get worried about what this quarter or that oppositional quarter says. I worry about the receiver who gets it. And there was a lot of ululation and that for me does it.
GF: Here is our mother; she is doing her job, feeding her kids, empowering her kids. We have political animals riding on her back abusing her name behind her back. Does she know that these people are doing this and what’s her reaction?
GC : Of course she does.
You don’t scale up to the level of Secretary for Women’s League without having 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.
GF: So this means we shall see some casualties.
GC: I don’t know what you will see but I know what must stop, it is this tomfoolery.