Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Charamba losing media war, hysterical and vindictive

By Jealousy Mawarire

Reading George Charamba’s latest instalment of his Nathaniel Manheru column, I could figure out that he is rapidly losing a battle of wits, a media war that his verbose, column-orientated political propaganda approach has failed to withstand and, in the process, has exposed his shortcomings as a political communication strategist.

Jealousy Mawarire being interviewed by journalists
Jealousy Mawarire being interviewed by journalists

It is very evident from his writings, and information that we gather about the political goings-on in Zanu-PF, that Charamba provides the media, propaganda pseudo-expertise to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction and he has tried in vain to prop the stalk of his faction leader by using a propaganda model called card stacking which  thrives on biased utilization and exaggeration of Mnangagwa’s liberation war history backed by numerous contrived testimonials by selected war veterans through a Sunday Mail column dubbed “Chimurenga II Chronicles”.

Shadowy columnists like Bishop Lazarus, Sharp Shooter and Minister of Truth have also been introduced in the Sunday Mail and added to his Nathaniel Manheru instalment in the Saturday Herald to advance the same cause, albeit with very little success if we go by the frustration shown by Charamba recently, and his resolution to try and rope in the security sector to fight his factional propaganda wars.

Mnangagwa and his factional bed-mates should have known that Charamba is not a very good political propagandist having presided over President Robert Mugabe’s ill-fated 2008 presidential campaign which the vindictive presidential spokesperson premised on a violent message symbolised by a “Fist of Fury” that the electorate resoundingly rejected.

Charamba’s insistence on portraying Mnangagwa as an “old soldier” does not help the unelectable Vice President for it brings into play gory memories of Gukurahundi, a dark past that  the VP’s political opponents have painstakingly used to soil his reputation.

It is quite clear that Charamba cannot match the likes of Jonathan Moyo’s character attack propaganda approach through his card stacking method hence his resolve to scandalising and criminalising the private media that he is bizarrely accusing of being part to Rugare Gumbo’s “communication strategy” which “revolves around buying journalists into headlines that suggest People First is feared across the political divide.”

Charamba’s war is interestingly, not against Gumbo but Jonathan Moyo and the G40 faction in Zanu-PF only that he has no guts to confront Moyo toe-to-toe. He would rather attack former Vice President Joice Mujuru, Gumbo, the Daily News and the NewsDay than take Moyo head-on.

It is a well-known fact that Charamba suffers from an academic inferiority complex when it comes to Moyo, maybe borne out of his close sojourn with him during his first stint as information minister in the then department of information and publicity in the President’s Office.

He would rather ramble and throw innuendos, than go for the jugular and disclose his actual target. His cowardice does not only show in his attempt at hiding behind the Nathaniel Manheru proverbial finger, but his pontificating about  “the rise of illicit power centres in the establishment, centres playing god on persons and processes” and “passing death sentences on careers and characters” without disclosing the characters who man these centres.

It manifests in the profuse creation of shadowy and faceless columnists in the public media yet he cries against source protection that he, and his recent PHD graduate boss at the ministry should know is common practice in journalism and academic research especially in an environment where those in the corridors of power threaten to unleash the security forces on their political opponents.

Those who have done academic research, and indeed journalistic work in proper newsrooms not government offices, know that source protection has no effect on the internal validity of the information gathered.

On the contrary, Charamba’s insistence that the media disclose their sources is a threat to vibrant and truthful journalism in our extraordinary circumstances since, if adhered to, it would dissuade well-meaning Zanu-PF sources from disclosing the shenanigans playing in their fractious party thereby denying the public an opportunity to understand Zanu-PF for what it is- a faction-ridden dying revolutionary party.

Charamba’s insistence on source disclosure also exposes his cowardly violent nature which manifests in his attempts at creating soft targets that he can bully around instead of confronting the proverbial monster at his door-step.

He knows the sources of faction story-lines in Zanu-PF and why does he want the media to disclose them for him? Why can’t he use the acres of space his Nathaniel Manheru effigy enjoys in the Herald to name and shame these moles?

What is now saddening is that Charamba has successfully roped in the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Christopher Mushowe, into his relentless fight against the private media and the two are now threatening to throw vipers, anacondas and grenades at the private media when it is crystal clear they are expending their energy on the wrong targets.

Charamba’s claim that the Daily News is “aiding and abetting this very dangerous climate of nurturing worst proclivities in politics and politicians” and that the paper is guilty of “stroking egos of those little but hugely destructive politicians who play final arbiter to ZANU-PF succession processes” through “the abuse of the media institution of source sanctity and privileged anonymity” is self-serving and completely diversionary.

The real issue is that Charamba is frustrated by the evident fact that he has failed his factional master by losing the factional media wars that the Mnangagwa and G40 factions are locked in despite having the public media at his disposal. It is quite clear that his attempts at roping in the army, which he once claimed, in a Zimbabwe Independent interview, to work with, the police, the judiciary and the CIO into his media wars is part of his desperate attempts to destroy the playing ground rather than play the ball.

Rather than being man enough and create his own twitter account and post some bizarre images of croc -busting like the infantile Moyo which the media would gladly and voraciously feed on, he has chosen to remain on the old terrain of officialdom which has no potency and  virility arousing capacity even in the most lousy journalist.

In a media milieu where the macabre, the scandalous and bizarre sells, it is foolhardy for Charamba to want to counter that with officialdom, verbosity and pseudo-erudite columnists who do not inspire the digital youths who have no time for long and winding newspaper columns littered with archaic Victorian English.

By circumventing the truth and choosing weaker targets to attack, Charamba, in his latest Nathaniel Manheru column, betrays a confused and clueless propagandist lacking clarity and focus and exposes that, for all the false bravado that the Mnangagwa faction might want to exhibit through Charamba’s uninspiring columns, the faction is a beaten lot.

His rather bizarre claim that Mujuru’s People First project is working with G40 to attack Mnangagwa is the height of madness. Charamba should know that the People First Project and its leader Dr Joice Mujuru have no business in trying to influence who among the many tainted Zanu-PF officials the party might choose to field in the 2018 harmonised elections.

It simply does not make any difference whether Zanu-PF fields the free-falling Mugabe or the unelectable Lacoste, Mujuru would win. We are not building a political entity that is premised on exploiting the individual weaknesses of Mugabe or Mnangagwa, far from it.

People First is about restoring hope and dignity to the Zimbabwean populace, the hope and dignity that has been eroded by a bastion of Zanu-PF’s people last policies that seek to ensure the poor get poorer while the political elite continues to loot national resources.

It is such policies and practices that Mujuru and her People First project want to arrest, a system that extracts from the poor and benefits the political elite is what we are fighting. A system that is typified by the resolution to scrap duty rebates on our mothers who cross the borders by bus into South Africa and Botswana for trading yet retain rebates on chefs who drive through the same borders in the luxury of tax-payer purchased 4X4 SUVs or use the comfort of the national airliner and the airport terminal.

So it would not matter to Mujuru and the People First who Zanu-PF fields in 2018. That should worry Charamba, not Mujuru and her millions of supporters whom, interestingly, Charamba now acknowledges she has despite his prior spirited denials.

It is interesting to note that Charamba, at his denial best, inadvertently acknowledges Mujuru has people and that some of these are former Zanu-PF.

Rhetorically he asks, “How does she win a ZANU-PF battle by recruiting persons she already has, persons dismissed from ZANU-PF precisely for their loyalty and membership to her?”

It is good to see that Charamba now smells the coffee and acknowledges Mujuru has a following and that she certainly is not a lone ranger. It is that which is causing Charamba and his handlers to panic and to seek to destroy even the media that are reporting on this political spectacle.