HARARE - A columnist in a State-controlled newspaper, believed to be a senior aide to President Robert Mugabe, has suggested that the nonagenarian may be thinking of instituting a second unity government of sorts.
The columnist, Manheru — believed to be Mugabe’s spokesperson and permanent secretary for the ministry of Information, George Charamba — said these plans could have been implemented last year but were scuppered by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change party who refused to recognise Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s victory in the disputed 2013 elections.
The sometimes controversial columnist, who occasionally criticises even Cabinet ministers and senior Zanu PF officials, and whose writings often come to pass, also stated that succession issues in Zanu PF was not based on party seniority, but rather on officials’ record of consistent service to the party and State — hinting at a possible sidelining of embattled Vice President Joice Mujuru after Zanu PF’s December elective congress.
This left analysts wondering whether the country was being prepared for a future without Mugabe, as well as how Zimbabwe’s body politic might be structured then.
Manheru also suggested in his column in The Herald that Mugabe may still be thinking of continuing with the politics of inclusivity after Zanu PF’s December elective congress, similar to the one that the country had during the days of the government of national unity, which brought both political and economic stability to a country that was on the brink of collapse.
“Who knows for instance that save for Tsvangirai’s folly in rejecting results of 2013, Mugabe planned to get Tsvangirai into Parliament as head of the opposition, possibly by redeploying one of Tsvangirai’s elected MPs abroad as an ambassador, all to create room for this foolish man from Buhera? He was looking at some continuities from the politics of inclusivity.
“Or that post-Congress governance structures could in fact reintroduce some useful features from the inclusive era? And do so in ways that reconciles contending ambitions, thereby guaranteeing smooth transitions whenever they fall due?” Manheru wrote cryptically in his column yesterday.
Efforts to talk to Charamba yesterday to get some clarifications were unsuccessful.
Contacted for comment, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka denied any knowledge of Manheru’s claims.
“We are not aware of that position. They (Zanu PF) must concentrate on solving the national crisis not trying to force us to endorse a fraudulent election.
“No political arrangement can sanitise the fraudulent election,” Tamborinyoka said.
Analyst Shephered Mntungwa said it was common cause even inside Zanu PF that Manheru was Mugabe’s aide, Charamba. To that extent, political observers put some weight to many of his pronounciations in his column.
“Because the centre no longer holds effectively within Zanu PF and government, the utterances of people like Grace (Mugabe’s wife) and Charamba who are seen as close to the president are seen, fortunately or unfortunately, as official pronouncements.
“To that extent, Manheru’s writings of today (Saturday) can be understood to be a test of the waters and a hint at Mugabe’s thoughts to have a sort of GNU, as long as Tsvangirai acknowledges him as a legimately elected leader of the nation.
“It is also therefore likely that we may see this desire and project implemented in one form or the other soon after Zanu PF’s do-or-die elective congress next month, once Mujuru is possibly shunted out of the way. Were this to happen, it would most likely be to secure his ( Mugabe’s) future and that of his restless family, judging by Grace’s behaviour of the past few weeks,” Mntungwa said.