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By Mutumwa D. Mawere

ZIMBABWE will turn 28 this year not because the country did not have a history prior to independence but citizens chose to build a new civilisation in 1979 based on a just and democratic constitutional order underpinned by a simple concept of self government.

The post colonial state was a product of a protracted civil rights struggle and I would like to think that many would agree that the Zimbabwe of today is not exactly what the struggle was meant to help establish.

On paper, Zimbabwe is a democratic state but if there is a more potent threat to Zimbabwe’s constitutional order, George Charamba, President Robert Mugabe’s chief spin doctor, would top the list.

He writes a weekly column that is published by the state controlled daily newspaper, the Herald, in which he expresses views that expose the extent of the collapse of a constitutional order that is normally expected in a democratic society.

Having followed some of Charamba’s articles, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that in as much as many people may believe that President Mugabe is the sole poison pill to national progress, the real problem lies in our generation of which Charamba can count as my contemporary but whose views pose a much more significant problem for Zimbabwe to extricate itself from the avoidable, humanly-created economic and political quagmire.

President Mugabe is on record saying that the destiny of Zimbabwe can only be shaped by its citizens who ultimately should own the nation building project. At the core of the foundational principles of the post colonial state was the notion that citizens would create their own government and express their wishes through the constitutionally defined channels.

It was never part of the deal that the constitution would be cynically interpreted to allow a single individual to monopolise state power even in the face of monumental failure and then rely on state power to intimidate citizens into believing that there is no alternative than to surrender their sovereignty to an exclusive club with the monopoly of abusing the media to advance views that threaten the very constitutional order that the President purports to uphold.

Although Zanu PF has dominated the post colonial era, it cannot be said that the framers of the constitution of Zimbabwe intended to create a situation where the ruling party and the state would be one thing. Indeed, reading Charamba’s diatribes confirms that either he is unaware that the state belongs to citizens and Zanu PF should be nothing but a club of believers and members, or he thinks that citizens should be mere pawns that are occasionally used to legitimise a predetermined outcome through the electoral process.

It seems odd that a civil servant working for the people would openly insult his masters without whose sweat and taxes the state would not exist and ultimately, he would be in the ranks of the condemned majority poor.

Although he uses the name Manheru, his cover has already been exposed. He is, evidently, not afraid to air his partisan and often offensive views as would any rational civil servant working as a permanent secretary for a state institution.

The head of the civil service, under a properly functioning democratic order, would ordinarily be apolitical and the name Permanent Secretary was deliberately chosen to highlight the permanency of the job. In other words, the change of a government would ideally not have any impact on the civil service.

It cannot be said that Charamba behaves like a civil servant. Rather, he behaves like an intellectual terrorist armed with the venom that can only be expected from a political commissar. It is evident that Charamba has reached a point of no return and he has chosen to identify himself as a revolutionary civil servant prosecuting a national democratic revolution that so far has failed to confer real benefits to citizens.

To the extent that Charamba appears to believe that democracy, rule of law and human and property rights are a nuisance, it is reasonable to ask why President Mugabe, his principal, would subscribe to elections if the outcome of such democratic experiments could produce undesirable outcomes.

Although the constitution of Zimbabwe is clear and deliberate in terms of the Bill of Rights, the last 28 years have created an atmosphere of fear where citizens who may aspire to be considered for political office are easily dismissed, vilified and scandalised by so-called civil servants.

Would Charamba be prepared to serve any other person than President Mugabe? Is it in the national interest for a highly opinionated civil servant to be on the payroll of the state rather than the party?

Zimbabweans have allowed their civil service to be polluted by political prostitutes who have no respect for the constitutional order that their masters purport to respect.

Some have argued that due to externally influenced factors, Zimbabwe should suspend the democratic order so that the state is not accountable to its masters, the citizens, until the so-called bilateral dispute with the former colonial master is resolved.

We can see in the actions of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Charamba that they have accepted that any other democratic choice expressed by the people of Zimbabwe would not be acceptable if it did not yield a predetermined outcome.

Zanu PF is supposed to be a juristic person in its own right with a separate and distinct existence from the state. However, Charamba, whose position in the Party is not known, appears to have stepped into the shoes of Professor Jonathan Moyo to act in a Nazi-style manner with no regard to the constitutional consequences, effectively making the state an agent of the ruling party.

Ideally, any government should belong to all the citizens and transparency would be the only basis on which a state can function in a democratic order.

In the minds of Charamba and similar sycophants, it seems that they have accepted that citizens should not have a right to question government actions and even peoples’ representatives in parliament like David Butau are exposed to the worst form of intimidation.

"Charamba behaves like an intellectual terrorist armed with the venom that can only be expected from a political commissar"

I read Charamba’s article entitled “Zim: Lessons from a splitting rainbow” that was published by the Herald on Saturday, January 5, 2008. Charamba, in characteristic style, was not interested in state matters but with the threat to Zanu PF of an alleged project to broaden the menu of political options available to Zimbabweans in the forthcoming elections.

It is not surprising that Charamba would hold Simba Makoni, a member of the politburo of Zanu PF, in contempt only because of allegations that he may be considering becoming a candidate in the 2008 elections.

Ordinarily, any civil servant working for the state in a democratic order would be indifferent to political contestants but this is no longer the case in Charamba’s Zimbabwe.

Charamba has no shame in using Makoni’s taxes against his democratic right to make himself available if nominated to stand as a candidate. Who would have thought that the country that the likes of Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara, Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole and others would end up a hostage of people like Charamba and his ilk.?

He dismisses Makoni using the state newspapers without allowing citizens to make their own informed choices. If Makoni is disqualified because of incompetence, I am not sure what rational Zimbabweans would say freely about the performance of the state over the last 28 years under Charamba’s boss?

Charamba then goes on to diminish the role played by Ibbo Mandaza, whose record in the post colonial state is well established. I am informed that Mandaza worked for the state for 10 years and it is irresponsible for anyone working for the same administration to seek to undermine the record of a former colleague just because he has chosen to exercise his constitutional right to seek to advance the cause of change.

I should point out that I hold no brief to represent both Makoni and Mandaza, but find it unacceptable that Charamba would arrogate to himself the role of a custodian of the national democratic revolution project in a partisan manner.

If it is true that Makoni is associated with a project that would increase the available choices for Zimbabweans, notwithstanding his alleged questionable credentials, anyone who loves Zimbabwe and is cognisant of the current policy bankruptcy and rudderless navigation would support such courage.

Is it not strange that it now takes courage to even accept to be a candidate for political office in post colonial Zimbabwe, a country that rose from the womb of colonial oppression?

I am not sure what the heroes and heroines buried at the Heroes’ Acre would think of Charamba’s views against Morgan Tsvangirai, Wellington Chibhebe and others who have taken it upon themselves that Zimbabwe needs a change of direction.

The real reason for me to write the article is partly to address the comments made by Charamba in response to my article that exposed the hypocrisy of the RBZ in the ongoing Butau saga. This is what Charamba had to say: "Mawere, poor Mawere!

To have an opponent like Mutumwa Mawere is a blessing. You never struggle for feedback. I am sure Charamba relishes his tango with him. I mean if such a pithy line on Butau is acknowledged so profusely, so sanctimoniously, so expansively, who needs to cast lots to tell where and how the blow has fallen and has been received respectively?

What piqued and hurt this born-again South African? A mere reference to fugitives who run and run until they unfailingly hit the shores of Albion? Fugitives who know no other land to run to?

And he dares talk about Gono and patronage. He, of all people? What business did he start here without Zanu-PF and Government guarantees and patronage? Let him not push his luck too far, this clever-for-nothing bitter charlatan. Tizvinyore. Ngaati pwee. Icho!”

He obviously sees me as an opponent which is expected from any civil servant that does not understand the role of the state. I am sure that if the Public Service Commission still exists in Zimbabwe, the comments made by Charamba about Butau and other so-called fugitives would be of concern warranting disciplinary action.

As long as Charamba is an organ of the state, it cannot be acceptable that he thinks he is above the law. He makes the statement above that his comments about the role of the West in allegedly undermining the interests of Zimbabwe was not targeted at me and, therefore, I should stay out of the fray as if to suggest that people are only entitled to comment on matters that affect them personally.

Charamba recklessly uses the term “fugitive” to describe not only Butau but James Makamba, James Mushore, Julius Makoni, and others. He attempts to make a distinction between the so-called fugitives that are domiciled in the shores of Albion and those domiciled in Africa, suggesting that the term has territorial application.

The use of the term fugitive to describe the circumstances of Butau and others is not only mischievous but irresponsible. According to what has been published so far in relation to Butau, it is evident that he cannot be classified as a fugitive for to be a fugitive one would have to fall in anyone of the following categories:

1. If one has run away from Zimbabwe when charges were being formulated against him;
2. If one has breached any bail given to him;
3. If one has escaped from prison
4. If one has left Zimbabwe to avoid any legal process;

Charamba is fully aware that all that Butau has done is simply to exercise a constitutional right to require the government of Zimbabwe to act in terms of the law if he is to face charges in Zimbabwe. We all know what happened to Chris Kuruneri, Makamba and others who after being unlawfully placed on remand were eventually acquitted by the courts.

Would Butau have been treated any differently from Kuruneri, a former cabinet minister, who only last week was set free by a Supreme Court judge? Kuruneri’s circumstances are not different from the allegations against Butau. What is striking is that Kuruneri, Butau and Makamba are all from Mashonaland Central Province where Vice President Mujuru comes from, giving credence to the view that the selective targeting of people by Gono may be driven by an ulterior motive.

To the extent that the Zimbabwean police are looking for Butau for the purpose of investigating certain allegations, he cannot be considered to be a fugitive. He ran away from nothing and in any democratic society it would be unacceptable for citizens to be presumed guilty before the intervention of the judiciary. Charamba’s outburst goes a long way towards confirming that Zimbabwe is no longer a democratic state in which the separation of powers doctrine is applicable.

If a duly elected Member of Parliament and a Chairman of the powerful Budget and Finance Committee is susceptible to intimidation, then citizens have reason to be concerned. Butau has not left Zimbabwe to avoid any legal process but like Joshua Nkomo before him, he came to the conclusion that things have fallen apart and no interests of justice would be served by exposing himself to what the likes of Kuruneri endured.

It is interesting that Charamba is of the view that Butau ought to have been included on the sanctions list and is angry that the British chose to omit his name. Why would the government of Zimbabwe be concerned about a sanctions list when the official position is that they are illegal? If Butau is not on the sanctions list, then how can President Mugabe blame the same ineffective sanctions on the economic collapse?

I am sure that Charamba is aware of the call by a state Prosecutor, Tawanda Zvekare, in the Joseph Manjoro case for an investigation to establish the circumstances surrounding the release of more than Z$7 trillion by the RBZ to Flatwater Investments, a shelf company.

He urged the court to give an order for thorough investigations into the matter saying the central bank should have verified the suitability of Flatwater Investments to be contracted to procure tractors for the mechanisation programme before releasing the money. Charamba should be concerned like any loyal and honest civil servant about what Manjoro said in court regarding the mandate he got from the RBZ to import tractors from a pre-selected foreign supplier, Michigan Tractors, a company allegedly connected to Gono.

If Zvekare can openly blame the RBZ for disbursing Z$7 trillion without undertaking any due diligence on the beneficiary, then why is it that Charamba has a problem in focusing his attention on the RBZ?

With respect to the RBZ’s role in the Butau saga, this is what Zvekare had to say in court:

"The firm contracted Manjoro to source foreign currency on the black market on their behalf, who also subcontracted several runners like (fugitive MP David) Butau to assist him. The rest of the money given to Manjoro is not accounted for and the rest of the money he gave to his friends is also not accounted for. What we have now is a grand theft involving the RBZ itself.

I find it incredulous that a whole central bank of a country would release trillions to a company on the strength of a mere letter, which was not verified. This marks of a conspiracy between the central bank and the company to steal all this money.

Right from the RBZ to the lowest runner at Road Port no mercy should be accorded them. The court should give an order for thorough investigations right up to the central bank to avoid a situation whereby the courts would be only dealing with runners instead of cash barons and baronesses."

Even President Mugabe would agree that if what Zvekare said is true about the RBZ, then it would not be in the national interest for him not to take responsibility for the decay.

Charamba then challenges my views on Gono and the mafia-style operations of the RBZ. He alleges that my business was started with Zanu PF and government guarantees and patronage and then fails to expose how such patronage manifested itself. Surely, for a spin doctor like Charamba, it should not be difficult for him to expose me. Why try to protect the public from knowing the truth about my businesses? If my businesses were corruptly acquired, then surely Charamba should not hesitate naming my accomplices? Why would Charamba seek to expose Butau and then refuse to expose my alleged benefactors?

He threatens me not to push my luck too far, suggesting that if I heed the message then he will have no incentive to tell the public the truth about me.

I am challenging Charamba openly to expose any information that may be available to him substantiating his baseless allegation that I acquired Shabanie Mashaba Mines (Private) Limited in 1996 using a government guarantee. It is important that Charamba grows up and walk the talk. The public deserves to know the truth.

Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column is published on New every Monday. You can contact him at:

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