HARARE - Hawkish presidential spokesperson George Charamba is more and more flaunting his favoured side in Zanu PF’s succession wars, moving yesterday to shellack savagely all the party opponents of embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Speaking in an interview with ZiFM radio last night, Charamba labelled the ruling party’s ambitious Young Turks who go by the moniker Generation 40 (G40), and who are opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe, as “foolish successionists” who are bound to lose this war.
He also accused the G40 brains trust of harbouring “sinister minds that speak in the name of the president but who are in fact successionists” — sentiments that provoked an angry retort from Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
Bizarrely, Charamba also accused the G40 of working hand in glove with former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who was sacked from Zanu PF at the end of 2014 on untested allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe.
“And here are these God’s deputies who will know when Mugabe will die, who can tell who can be vice president and who can succeed, 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 presidents themselves, but they know who must not succeed.
“Here are little men with absolutely no iota of history behind them thinking they can emerge as leaders of this country, with little minds, thinking boldness is urge, no it isn’t.
“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 the political ladder by tweeting through Twitter, not knowing that they are tweeting themselves to eternity.
“Who think that 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,” Charamba said in what was seen as a naked attack on Moyo, and adding ominously that “I am speaking as president Mugabe’s press secretary”.
And although he had for long crassly argued that Zanu PF’s deadly factionalism was a creation of the independent media, which he has threatened repeatedly, Charamba also accused some politburo members of leaking party secrets to the press.
“They sit there with some little newsman, 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. There are fangled hands everywhere and they think we don’t see that? Come on! The tragedy is to think that you think you have the brightest mind around and you are cleverer than every one. That’s tragic.
“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 I am supposed to keep my mouth mum when they are discussing the fate of the president, my boss ...
“My boss’s tenure is being discussed by his juniors. Does that make sense to you and this is what makes me angry. And when you point that out they give you a faction,” Charamba said.
The interview immediately drew a sharp rebuke from Moyo who said Charamba’s views had become more and more political beyond what was expected from civil servants as he worked “in aid of a desperate faction”.
“There’s a silly Shakespearean wordsmith who thinks politics is about clever words & who sees himself as the system when he’s a factionalist!
“Zanu PF had 2 factions. Mujuru faction was expelled in 2014 & now exists in the media as PF. Thus only one faction remains a problem!
“Some of us with hard lessons on the 2004 tragedy of factions resisted the Mujuru faction not for the other faction but for Mugabe!” Moyo wrote.
“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!” he added.
But Charamba warned pointedly that it was a matter of time before his opponents met their fate.
“They think they have humiliated me, but they can’t. I think what they need to worry about is their careers. Yes, not me. And the president is not a person who rushes, he will allow you a very long rope.
“You prance about enjoying meaningless headlines and thinking you are on top of the mountain, but it will take just one afternoon. I don’t know what you will see, but we must stop this tomfoolery,” Charamba said.
Charamba’s tirade against G40 appeared to vindicate his Zanu PF critics who have claimed that he has “gotten away with murder for a long time” — pointing to his controversial writing and statements in State media as well as his recent fight with War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, his views on Gukurahundi and his alleged failure to protect Mugabe, including when the nonagenarian read the wrong speech in Parliament last year.
Even the First Family showed their displeasure towards the end of last year when First Lady Grace Mugabe —seen as the power behind G40 — at one of her at her rallies indirectly attacked Charamba for criticising ZimAsset in his controversial articles in the Nathaniel Manheru column.