GEORGE Charamba has been a gladiator in Zimbabwe’s political sphere, doing what no man has ever done in the country — holding the powerful dual roles of Presidential spokesman and permanent secretary in the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry.
by PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Charamba’s influence was far and wide and many considered him a powerful force both in government and Zanu PF, as he spoke on behalf of President Robert Mugabe.
This façade was exposed last Saturday afternoon, when First Lady Grace Mugabe censured Charamba at the Zanu PF Chinhoyi youth interface rally.
Grace attacked Charamba for abusing his position as the head of the Information ministry by giving prominence to one faction of Zanu PF, while at the same time denigrating those said to be in G40.
“Now we see in The Herald there are only specific people who receive favourable coverage, while others are left out.
“Do you think we don’t see it? Don’t do that,” she said.
“George, you are below ministers and you have no right to insult ministers.
“If you feel you have been abused by a minister, you should report to the President.”
Charamba has in the past bashed Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo in the media.
Charamba, just one and a half years ago, waded into the Zanu PF succession battles, and like a man in control, he did not mince his words and spoke with authority, albeit in the borrowed robes.
“What they have to worry about are their own careers, not me,” he said of ministers said to be aligned to G40.
“The President is not a character who rushes.
“He will allow you a very long rope, you go about enjoying meaningless headlines and thinking you are on top of the world, it will take just one afternoon.
“So watch it, there are many sinisterminds 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.”
Then, Charamba said he spoke on behalf of the President and warned of a day when Mugabe would take action.
“One tragedy of those little fellas, and I call them little fellas, they confuse media skills with social skills,” he said then. “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.”
But Charamba should have seen that the tide was turning, when he received an uncharacteristic tongue-lashing from then buccaneering Zanu PF women’s league finance secretary, Sarah Mahoka, who asked Mugabe if he had approved of what his Press secretary said.
Charamba insisted that he was speaking on the President’s behalf, in spite of the dressing-down he received at Mahoka’s hands.
It might be insignificant, but the Mugabes missed Charamba’s wife’s funeral, with reports that they had snubbed the President’s spokesman, yet other bigwigs attended.
The government issued a ready response for Mugabe’s failure to attend the funeral, which set tongues wagging, but with Saturday’s upbraiding it could be a sign that things are not as they used to be between the President and Charamba.
Political analyst, Eldred Masunungure said Charamba’s public censure speaks to the bad blood between him and Grace and was testament to the deepening factional fights in Zanu PF.
“It suggests that the First Lady regards Charamba as a barrier between her and the President,” he opined.
“That Charamba is being a bad gatekeeper and she had to admonish him to behave properly.
“This is reflective of the factional fights that have spilled over into government, as Charamba was rebuked as a government official by someone not in government, proving the complicated relationship between party and government.
“This shows the party is supreme over government and Charamba has to toe the party line.”
The conflation of the party, State and government by Zanu PF has become entrenched, but analysts reckon this could be the best time to separate the three.