President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba has revealed that he once considered throwing in the towel, but changed his mind after he was persuaded by his new boss.
Last year Charamba, who doubled up as former president Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson and Information ministry permanent secretary, pledged to retire when the 94 year-old politician left office.
However, he stayed on after Mugabe was toppled in a coup last year and has since been promoted to deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet.
Charamba (GC) told our senior reporter Veneranda Langa (VL) in an exclusive interview that he had “selfish reasons of wanting to retire.”
He also spoke about Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s alleged poor health and his alleged strained relationship with the president.
Below is the full interview.
VL: You were recently elevated to be deputy chief secretary to the president and cabinet. Please briefly tell us what your new role is and how is it different from your previous assignment as presidential spokesperson?
GC: The first difference is that obviously it is a new title and a new salary, but this is a higher responsibility – both in terms of hierarchy of the service and of course in terms of the tasks I am expected to be charged.
Government has decided that instead on one head wearing two hats when I was doubling as secretary for the Information ministry as well as spokesperson of the president, this time around government decided that it must split the two roles, which by the way it is done professionally.
You may want to know that sometime soon after the government of national unity I actually made a proposal to former President Robert Mugabe who did not seem to see much value in it.
Happily, this time around the new President found value with my recommendations, which are consistent with world practice.
Running a Ministry which is as big as the Ministry of Information with several units under it apart from its core- mission as a purveyor of public information is quite an enormous task.
Having to play spokesperson to the foremost citizen and his big office; over and above running a key ministry compounds the burden.
It is only rationale that the two are kept apart. The other reason was that we had a very tricky situation where within one establishment we had a minister who is the government spokesperson and a civil servant who is the spokesperson for the president.
Ordinarily, that provided a basis for conflict, but thankfully no conflict ever arose because we went beyond parameters of disputes to cultivate a relationship of understanding, but really you do not want a structure that provides for conflict.
You want a structure that delineates roles in such a way that there is no basis for conflict and this is exactly what the president has now done.
What it means is that the Ministry of Information plays the role of government spokes ministry and the minister being the chief government spokesperson assisted by the ministry secretary.
In my case my remit is now narrow. It focuses on the president and his office – the president the person, the president the party leader, the president the head of government, and the president the head of state.
So, you have a compendium of the personal, the political, the ceremonial and the executive – all roles in one because once you meld all those functions then you have a short end of who the president is, and my role is to evolve a communication strategy which projects the president as an individual, as a person, what his ideas are, what his values are, what his leadership style is, how he thinks, what his philosophy in life is and this bears to the president as an individual, and to project him as the leader of Zanu PF because it is the party, which conceives the ideas that run government.
Essentially there is a pre-eminent role for the president as a leader of a political party because this is the figure that takes the party to an election and win – and a figure who is also the head of an outfit that brainstorms and creates the ideas that rule the society.
Karl Marx said in every epoch the ruling class provides the ruling ideas.
So, you have that dimension of projecting the president as a political leader, and then of course I have to project the president as a head of state and in that respect it means that he is the symbol of the nation, and that means there are certain rituals of state and ceremonies, which come with the office and those are always public events.
They have to be orchestrated, packaged and conveyed and communicated to the wider public.
There is a school of thought that says nations are not created but imagines, and that means there are certain symbols common in a nation like a common history, tragedies, successes, joy, symbols of myth of origin, symbols of the state, and the president is part of that symbolic role.
So, when you talk of Zimbabwe immediately what comes to your mind is a symbol of a kettle shaped country.
So, clearly you will then have to ensure the president is reflected in that symbolic role.
Then we have the president as the head of government and it means that daily he has to make decisions that impact on the citizenry, painfully, pleasurably and enhancing those prospects in respect to demand of the time.
So, to the extent that he makes decisions that impact on the citizenry it is important that those should be explained adequately by way of rationale, direction of thinking, how they are translated into actions and programmes of government.
When you look at that element it means that the president must communicate so that he engenders confidence, goodwill, belief and comfort and that sense of wellness in the citizenry.
So, we are moving away from ruler ship to leadership, and leadership’s hallmark is communication, interaction and connecting with the citizenry, and it is a key responsibility that this department that the President has just announced has to fulfil.
Of course the ecology of the presidency goes beyond his office because he is assisted by two vice presidents, which means beyond the office of the president, we also talk of a presidency which is charged with the responsibility of running this country.
Really, my functions do encompass the three offices of the president and the two VPs.
To also add to that the president is a married man, which means in terms of state functions there is the office of the first lady.
When you take into account the president’s office, the VPs offices and the office of the first lady you will have the ecology of the presidency, and this department must actually create a communication strategy that encompasses that ecology.
So, in short, I project, I explain, I announce, and that sums up my duties.
VL: Are you happy with what you accomplished in your previous role as permanent secretary and what will you say were the highlights of your stint?
GC: I do not know whether I have the courage to mark my performance.
I think this was a public role which impacted on one of the most vocal constituencies including journalists, and it is up to history to tell me how well and how badly I fared.
I am probably one of the longest serving secretaries and presidential spokesperson in the history of the country, and it is difficult to say how I fared during that long spell.
However, there were quite a number of things that happened when I was in charge of the ministry and as spokesperson for the office of the president.
You are aware that for a long time we did not have a legislative framework for the media industry, and the two pieces of legislation that shaped the media terrain were done under my watch, and these are the Broadcasting Services Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
You might not like them or like them but the issue is that we had an open field.
I also had some input to make in terms of provisions in the constitution in terms of freedom of expression, and so there is that legislative role which is the major highlight of my career.
The second aspect has to do with professionalising the interactions between government and the media sector.
You have seen transformation in terms of style of interaction. In the past communicating with the media was actually a favour and not a duty of public office, but now we try by all means to make government officials accessible and to make government understood by the public and also to respond to queries by the media in a way that is time conscious.
Certainly there has been improvement in public communication and public interaction with the media.
The third area of achievement had to do with creating institutions of the communications industry.
For a long time there was never an investigation into the needs of the communication industry and media sector.
We introduced the Impi panel of inquiry, which was in fact the first major inquiry into the sector.
There is belief that yes, we made and inquiry but its recommendations were not implemented.
However, firstly when we conceived the idea of making an inquiry there was initial scepticism, even resistance from the media industry, but for the first time we were able to do an inquiry with membership from across the media field and it brought together publishers, managers and people in editorial and advertisers.
So, this is really one major inquiry which encompassed the whole field and produced a massive document, and so for me just that inquiry taking place was a major development in the industry.
It also looked at various themes beyond the editorial, and even looked at business models.
We now have a document that can drive transformation of that whole communication sector in a way that is scientific, purposeful and far sighted.
When it comes to digesting that report into policy and into law there were people that were initially sceptical about having such an inquiry.
When the inquiry went through, those same voices that were sceptical then became impatient in making sure that the outcome of that inquiry was processed into policy and into law.
We created a product that engendered confidence, but I am not worried about that impatience, which has judged me rather harshly to say I sat on a report.
The report was just the beginning of information gathering in terms of transforming a complex industry.
The inquiry was just one aspect, you needed more input, and the input we later got came from the 2018 elections.
There are lessons to be drawn from those elections which actually made the Impi report perishable.
I shudder to imagine what would have happened if we had hurried to write a law on the strengths of the IMPI report because that law would be by now outdated.
So, I am so happy that this is one time when running slowly proved more efficient because then it means that we are able to craft a law that encompasses a sector that is so dynamic, so changing and which is so flux.
I think we saw a lot of the fluidity during the elections. There are a lot of lessons learnt from that experience, which must go towards policy and law making.
The other element has to do with the deregulation of the broadcasting industry as well as its digitisation.
Chances are that when we go to our next election in 2023 we will be having an upward of 24 television channels, which means the rules change by way of policy.
Can you imagine if after the Impi report I had proceeded to edit the BSA, it would have been very anachronistic in the light of the far reaching decisions taken by the International Telecommunications Union to digitalise the broadcasting sector thereby creating this tower of Babel in terms of broadcasting.
When you have a tower of Babel you also need a law that encompasses that tower. This is where you realise that delays were actually good.
Accompanying the broadcasting media, which is in gestation as we speak is the creation of an audio visual sub-sector or content industry by way of film, video, drama and documentaries, you name it.
That whole industry begged for a legal framework and the question is do we expand BSA Act to encompass that or do we create an Audio Visual Act, which is entirely new, and if you want my opinion I will indicate to you that this industry now needs three pieces of legislation: one which takes care of print industry, a legislation that encompasses electronic as the new media, but both laws realising the converged nature of the communication industry, and another for the creative industry because if you call it film you have narrowed it, and it is better called the Creative Industry Act because there it takes on board the various genres, which will come on board in the wake of the completion of the digitisation project.
So, there is a huge legislative proposition ahead of us, and I am quite confident that my successor Ndavaningi Nick Mangwana should be able to take the industry to a higher level.
Last area has to do with building of infrastructure of the broadcasting industry, and you saw me going the length and breadth of the country to lay out a foundation for the broadcasting industry.
We have huge areas in this country which have never received television signals from creation day.
You can actually conclude that those areas were listening to radio stations from outside Zimbabwe, some were actually getting signals from Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique, and in some cases from America by way of Studio 7.
That actually tells you that we were actually denationalising our own people.
However, for the first time now we have an infrastructure which can see us encompass our entire territory.
We are bringing an essential service to every community.
The entire infrastructure in the Broadcasting industry was riding on infrastructure that the Rhodesians put up in the 1960s.
This is the first ever major investment done after independence in the broadcast sector.
My biggest disappointment is that the media industry remains polarised, not necessarily because of weaknesses of players in your industry, but because the industry is divided by people coming outside the newsroom – by way of foreign governments, NGOs who are not in fact media outfits, by way of political actors and as you would allege by way of government.
That in itself raises worry because it means you are not an estate because if you were then you would stand up to all those pressures.
If you find yourselves succumbing to influence from government, opposition, foreign governments and embassies, donors, then it means you have not been able to establish your own estate and that you are an extension of other forces and so you cannot therefore pretend as media that you are an estate.
If you find you are doing the bidding of government or of the opposition, then it means you are an extension of the first estate.
It does not make you are a fourth estate because government is in power as the first estate and similarly the opposition is government in waiting which means they are still hovering within the confines of the first estate.
So, it does not matter whether you are pro government, pro ruling party or pro opposition, you are still an appendage of the First estate.
It hurts me because what that therefore reflects is that you are ill equipped to stand and define your own space.
You are ill equipped by way of intellect and ill equipped by way of professional identity.
Why is it so obvious for a reader to tell who your source was if you were so strong enough to manage your sources?
Once you succumb to these sources it means you cannot sustain your claims to be a fourth estate, and that is my major disappointment – the inability to create estates, which counter balances all other estates as it should be the case, but one that is reduced to a vessel by other dominant Estates.
My second disappointment comes by way of the business structuring of the print media industry.
To the title, there is no newspaper which is making money in this country.
In other words certain malpractices which have been allowed to thrive have disturbed your viability.
The media is not organised as a business propositions, you are organised as vile political outfits fated never to make money.
Can you tell me a good reason you fail to pull your resources to buy newsprint as an industry?
When you pull your resources as an industry then you are able to leverage your numbers.
Can you tell me one good reason that justifies this industry having all the inputs in the printing process procured individually?
Can you tell me one good reason in this planet why we need to have seven delivery vans, each carrying 5000 papers and going in the same direction thereby operating sub-economically – same direction, same trip and same small number of newspapers for the same reason?
What we then have in such a business model is what we call mutual ruin.
You are all ruining each other and so no one is making money.
Can you tell me one good reason on this planet why each title needs to have its own printer – and these are not modern day printers.
Most of them are refurbished and obsolete. Everything else has converged except your publishing, printing, marketing, distribution and procurement habits and it does not make sense.
One critical input that we thought we were going to achieve was to get your publishers as well as your managers to realise that they were in fact fuelling a sub economic business model.
So, I am disappointed that I have to walk out of the industry before we have been able to converge around what I call sector commons where publishers are converging to reduce costs and improve efficiency so they are better able to compete on the product.
It will see conditions of service of journalists improving.
Why do you need to have different training setups? Sometimes we say we are polarised, but you get polarised even to the extent of the bottom line to the point of self-hating.
We are running a very archaic business model in the communication industry and this is why we have been so slow in up taking technology and why we have been so slow in online money making.
Worldwide, real money in publishing is now being made online but we are still making money out of hard copy. That is how outdated we are as an industry.
In terms of education of journalists I am very happy that there is a new awareness now that you people are in the knowledge industry and you must read.
There is never a time when you can say in life your faculties are full.
But, there is one area where you are still very weak – economic news reportage, you journalists are totally ignorant and I am sorry to say when it comes to economic news you know nothing.
You are plain ignorant and you do not know how to relate to business topics at all.
That is why most of you end up writing politics in business, you are running from your own ignorance and I am just hoping that this is one area where my successor Mangwana might want to look at to ensure that there is a special facility for training journalists – more so in an environment where the president has declared that Zimbabwe is open for business.
Journalists’ skills must show that business intellect which we then need.
VL: What opportunities and challenges does your predecessor face and have you shared any notes in how to navigate them?
GC: He is eminently qualified, he is a good communicator. He has very good chemistry with the political leadership, but he obviously needs to know a bit about bureaucracy because he is coming outside of it, but that does not require a lifetime.
We had two consecutive sessions for induction with him, but he is a fast learner from the little I have gauged so far.
So, really I don’t think there will be any difficulties for him to settle in.
VL: Your successor has publicly complained about the poor state of journalism in state controlled media outlets and specifically singled out ZBC. Do you take any responsibility for the rot as someone who superintend over the ministry for so many years?
GC: I cannot take responsibility for the simple reason that you can take a horse to the river but you cannot make it drink.
We do not come to the Ministry of Information to educate journalists.
That is the role of polytechnics and universities and the doors there have been wide open.
Remember when we were doing Aippa and I tried to build into Aippa both academic as well as professional qualifications, the retort from the industry was that we are not a profession and that we do not have to go to a journalism school because we can be trained on the job.
Can you imagine? I then went further and said how do you hope to handle ideas competently when you do not have tertiary skills and are not degreed.
Again I got brickbats that I was being too elitist and that because I have five degrees then everyone else needs to have five degrees.
They said ours is not to read, ours is to report. However, the world of news has moved from reportage to analysis.
It works for broadcasting because broadcasting is not a thoughtful medium; it is a medium of image and sound bites.
Over and above the limitations of a genre you also have mental incapacity and you can imagine what that does.
If you look at some of the ZBC staff members, I do not think graduate reporters are able to fill my single palm.
The other day I had a conflict with the ZBC chief executive officer.
They were trying to recruit more staff ahead of the 2018 elections and the qualification was a diploma in journalism, and I hit the roof and said in a country where graduates are in fact selling airtime, what good reasons do you have to stoop so low?
So, my message is that the Ministry of Information does not employ ZBC staff and ZBC must have entry qualifications and insist on those and, therefore, ensure there is a cadreship that is literate.
I do not see that appetite maybe because people are threatened by educated cadres.
In fact, I happen to know that the few degreed journalists that have tried to go to ZBC have come to grief because they were being harassed, and it is not even unique to ZBC alone, it happens in a number of newsrooms.
The only organisation where we have seen rapid strides in ensuring that skills are upgraded – in fact is Zimpapers because the Zimpapers newsroom has transformed and it is showing by way of the degree of analysis – not shallow political analysis.
I am talking of thoughtful analysis, which gets a CEO of a major company to sit back and think.
This country suffers from a poverty of ideas. So, I agree with my successor that it is an issue which needs attention.
VL: A few months before Robert Mugabe was toppled last year you pledged that if he leaves office you will retire. Why did you go back on your word?
GC: No, I did not do that, and let me explain. I lost my wife and that means that I am running an orphaned home. I wanted to devote more time to my children.
Secondly, with all these years in the communication sector in government I was of the persuasion that time had come for me to download the knowledge I had acquired over those decades and use it in the direction of training, and so really my ambition was to join the academia and maybe have one or two lessons with some universities.
My third reasons of wanting to retire had to do with that I have a passion for farming with more than 500 herd of livestock and 120 hectares of cropping fields.
I have lots of visions in that area and I thought that at 57 years old I needed to relocate into another sub sector where I could try out new things.
I have also not had time to read for an even higher degree, and I have been preparing myself to read for a higher degree except that I have not had time because of the sheer pace and tempo of a big office.
So, those were my selfish reasons of wanting to retire.
We then had developments of November and change of leadership and the advent of the new dispensation.
The rule of thumb in politics is that you do not retire ahead of an election because it smacks of a desertion – and I am not a deserter at all.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa then said to me I hear you talking about the idea of deserting, and so are you suggesting that my policies are so smelly that you won’t even want to associate with them?
I just stood up, saluted the President and went back to my desk and worked like never before.
He needed my services and through him I assumed that my country needed my services and because of that I might have to defer my decision to retire.
It will come someday. I am 57 and it means I am a mere eight years away from mandatory retirement.
VL: Are there any changes you wish to make in the way the president communicates with the media and ordinary Zimbabweans?
GC: I cannot impose a style of communication on my President but I can proffer advice. He is my boss whether I like it or not.
The President has to govern in a digital age and the hallmark is that ideas, thoughts and feelings – whether positive or negative do not require the printing press or newsprint to be published, read or broadcast.
What they require is your mind, twiddling fingers and maybe a handset.
We are in an age where ideas and thoughts are de-institutionalised and they circulate at a breath taking speed where every citizen has become a publisher and movement and circulation of ideas is at a rate, which fibre optic technology allows, and so the tempo of government must keep pace with the rapid speed with which technology has wrought.
We need to serve in such an environment and that means much more than the head.
It means you are governing by the finger and you must tweet and participate in the new media whilst not forgetting mainstream media and the presidency must be communicating.
Government must be communicative. Speaking is measured by decibels and communication by thoughts.
So, you want to create and institution that communicates with the governed and interacts with them and the co-responsibility of this office is to shunt back what society is thinking into the palace of power, which isolates by the way.
There has to be a way in which power faces society and every Monday we have briefing sessions to make sure that leadership is on the palms of national thoughts to complete the cycle of communication.
The president has declared that he is a servant leader and a listening leader and he must be an interactive and engaging president.
VL: There are reports that you recently attended a meeting with the Information minister and some Zimpapers executives where an order was issued to scale down on the coverage of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga amid concerns he was overshadowing the president. What nictitated the meeting and why was the minister compelled to issue such an order?
GC: How does my new position allow me to control Zimpapers? That is a lie.
I worked with the current president from as far back as he was still a minister and we developed almost a personal relationship.
Maybe that is why I suffered in the past. With VP Chiwenga I knew him even before he was commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, and whenever I talk to him he addresses me as his young brother and I address his wife Mary Chiwenga as Amaiguru.
In fact, (a publication) wrote a story that I have been captured by the military but it is not true.
When it comes to VP Kembo Mohadi he addresses me as Wezhira Wezheve because I come from Buhera.
President Mnangagwa actually calls me Jojo. That is how we interact in terms of interpersonal relationships and it is very intimate with the president and the two VPs.
Maybe because of the experiences of pre-November where there was tension within the presidency the media industry has grown to believe that an abiding feature of the presidency must be conflict.
It has spilt over from pre-November and was motivated by the G40, and that thinking still lingers in your news rooms and is looking for validity in changing circumstances and so there must be conflict and if it is not there it must be invented so that the theory of conflict continues and you (media) say who is more likely to be an adversary of the President and you think it must be Chiwenga.
VL: What is your reaction to allegations that your removal from the position of permanent secretary had to do with your allegiance to Chiwenga and your use of state controlled media to prop him up?
GC: You (media) invented that conflict, and I live close to those characters and then you make allegations. If only you knew the degree of interaction between the two (Mnangagwa and Chiwenga). If you knew no one would pick a pen and put that line, actually vakapfekana (they are tight buddies).
It is the same with Mohadi, each time we are together there is laughter through and through.
That is the convivial environment that characterises the presidency, but there are certain groups in society which feel threatened by the harmony in the presidency and want conflict, but no such conflict exists and will ever exist.
Recently there were unusual developments where Amai Chiwenga gave up her organisation Musha Mukadzi so that the first lady (Auxillia Mnangagwa) can run it as Angel of Hope – but that is the spirit.
There is only one first lady and everyone rallies around that. When the White City tragedy struck, Zanu PF went to elections without the national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri because she was badly injured.
VPs Mohadi and Chiwenga also suffered injuries, and luckily the two (Mnangagwa and Chiwenga were able to work together and pulled the whole machinery of campaigning. Can you imagine if the bombing was on the opposition, the elections were going to be stopped. So, there is camaradie spirit existing within the Presidency.
I have noticed two divisive strategies pursued by people opposed to the current leadership.
The first is to allege conflict and invent it. The second is to invent illness – that VP Chiwenga is dying and bed ridden, and given my state in government I can relate to them because those are techniques to destabilise an outfit, except that we have three trained soldiers, two intelligence ministers, and one is commander in the presidency – and how do you divide them.
Mohadi is a CIO, Mnangagwa was a long time intelligence minister, Chiwenga rose from the liberation war to the rank of general and then commander, and how do you use run of the mill techniques to divide people with vast experience?
That is an exercise in futility.
So, I have never had a meeting with the minister, except for hand over take over, nor did I have any meetings with Zimpapers.
VL: So, is it true that you were removed from the Information Ministry because of your propping up of Chiwenga?
GC: I am not allegiant to anyone. I am allegiant to the presidency, and they work well as a unit.
VL: Has President Emmerson Mnangagwa finally met former president Robert Mugabe now that they have mended their relationship and if so what was the nature of their discussions?
GC: The relationship between them is of long time colleagues in the struggle, and then the relationship of erstwhile boss and his junior, and now the relationship of predecessor and successor founded in the history of contemporary governance and politics of the evolution of our nation.
I think the conflict was never between the two men. It was a conflict between the current president and various interest groups that sought t to take advantage of the then President (Mugabe).
Mnangagwa is clear that he holds no grudges on Mugabe. He respects him as a leader, senior mentor and as an icon of the nation and our continent.
There has not been a meeting between them but there have been a lot of telephonic interactions. Face to face interaction has not taken place because of conflicting programmes. Right now Mugabe is in Singapore for treatment and Mnangagwa was in the United Nations.
However, in terms of telephonic contact and show of goodwill their closeness cannot be doubted and I bear witness to it.
VL: MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa has indicated that he will not occupy the office of opposition leader that the government says it’s in the process of creating. What is Mnangagwa’s position on that?
GC: First of all the MDC does not have to want to occupy that position whenever it is created. In the first place it is an institution that the president seeks to create to ensure that there is harmony within the structures of governance, and the role of the opposition at state occasions can be of precedence.
This office is not the invention of the president, it happens in other jurisdictions where in the Second Republic which must be accompanied by creation of new institutions we have never had to give visibility and recognition to the office of the opposition.
It was adversarial – us versus them as if our lives are shaped by elections. They are not – elections last for only two months from proclamation.
Meanwhile, we have five years away from the election madding crowd but we remain polarised for five years on an event which lasts for two months.
The president is writing new history in terms of how we do our politics, relating to each other, moulding a loyal opposition and putting the opposition as an institution.
When you orphan, demonise and keep the opposition outside the structures of government, you are seeding it to the outsider.
We are saying the opposition has a role to play as the first estate, and the politics and development of the country is a combination of those ruling and opposing.
We had trimmed it to interaction in Parliament but we want to broaden it beyond Parliament because what happens when Parliament adjourns?
The idea is to realise that contestation of elections needs not create antagonism. The confusion in the media is that you are conflating an institution with a person.
The creation of an institution is independent from the disposition of a person. If we create a position like the leader of the opposition in government structures you should ask questions like who is that person for purposes of occupying that post.
Is it the leader of the party or the senior opposition member in Parliament?
Are you not prejudicing the process by conflating the institution and the person (Chamisa). After all he is not in Parliament.
There are other issues, which are legal and policy issues which need to be executed in relation to the post of leader of the opposition in government.
A law and policy have not even been made. If it takes us five years to create that – then fine.
But who told you that Chamisa will still be the leader of the opposition?
When you are in state, persons do not matter.
What matters are institutions and frameworks which will then house those persons regardless of the character and personality.
It is not an offer to a person; it is an institution which is proposed the same way we created the Zimbabwe Investment Authority.
We are not creating it so that Chamisa occupies it. Individuals will always come and go. Do not confuse the two.
The president is very clear that in the event that the institution is created there will still be a decision on who occupies it, and it is a function of how the law frames it.
Is it going to be occupied by the leader of the opposition in Parliament, or the leader of the opposition party, but clearly, we have a president who won the elections and whose win was confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
We have an opposition leader who lost the elections and whose defeat was confirmed by the Constitutional Court, but that opposition leader still insists on the basis of his belief – and not the ballot –that he won and that the victory was stolen.
Such disposition does not make for an environment of interaction and no one should be left in doubt that there is a crisis of legitimacy in Zanu PF. This narrative that the legitimacy of the president is made through acceptance of defeat by the opposition leader is a false narrative. If it did we will not need the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or the courts.
We would need the say-so of the opposition, but there is no human being who confers legitimacy on a person who won the plebiscite. It means you are placing yourself above the courts, and all this prattling is to us prattle of an undersized political child.
We hope that maturity will visit him some day and he realises that winners do not win on the goodwill of losers.
It is in magnanimity of winners to accommodate losers, and a vision to create an institution is to ensure it underpins the stability of the country.
To think that you can utter an empty word to demonstrators to catapult your victory will not happen.
You have no electoral, legal basis to your claim or physical wherewithal to affect your dreams.
You do not even have a catapult, but you claim you are a leader. Victory does not work like that.
So, the silence of Mnangagwa is not a weakness.
He is a man of steel and wool, depending on which side you tickle him. This habit of goading the president and throwing toys at him thinking that elderly people will join you in your tantrums does not work in Zimbabwe.
VL: Has the president considered any sort of dialogue with Chamisa?
GC: That one is not a question for me to answer. Ask Zimbabwe Council of Churches secretary general Kenneth Mtata.
— The Standard