By Tafi Mhaka
Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet in charge of Presidential Communications, George Charamba, is not a sight to behold. The often pompous, grouchy and grossly opinionated civil servant went from wholeheartedly defending former President Robert Mugabe’s failed policies to cowering at the barking, melodramatic whims of Grace Mugabe at a July 2017 Star Rally in Chinhoyi to stabbing his longtime, despotic boss in the back 12 weeks later.
He has claimed the ‘West could go hang a thousand times’ and described the MDC-A as a ‘quisling party’, in a seemingly obnoxious bid to sound strikingly tough and overly patriotic to Zanu-PF. Plus, last week, Charamba went from posting a link to hard-core pornography on Twitter, to disappearing from the platform altogether, to returning publicly absorbed by his ‘handsome’ looks. Yes, a whole 56-year-old presidential spokesperson is profoundly captivated by the inconsequential, perverted rush of bragging about his purportedly good looks on social media.
This is the very man who preached to no end about a new dispensation in November 2017 but hastily advanced to trivialising the agonising deaths of unarmed, peaceful demonstrators and innocent passers-by on the streets of Harare in August 2018. This, indeed, is a high-ranking ‘gentleman’ who has effortlessly moved from beating his spouse to a pulp to shamelessly proclaiming profound outrage for the indiscriminate burdens young girls and women face allegedly owing to US sanctions.
All the while, the ‘third force’, codename for Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF twinned intelligence community, abducted and torture Samantha ‘Gonyeti’ Kurewa for parodying government-sanctioned tyranny. All the while, it is threatening to gang rape Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Japhet Moyo’s teenage daughter, reportedly to punish her father for promoting workers’ rights. Rape, it seems, is becoming the weapon of choice for our publicly funded, extrajudicial abduction, torture and hit squads.
Still, our praise-seeking, wife-beating presidential spokesperson is ominously silent on such deplorable conduct. You won’t find Charamba preaching about an existential need to reduce or eliminate human rights abuses, protect young, vulnerable girls or safeguard weak, defenceless women. You won’t ever find him deliberating on a dire need for Zimbabwe’s government to develop a strong, progressive human rights culture and promote individual constitutional rights, especially among our armed forces and police force.
Charamba’s honed the abysmal ability to build wishfully subversive and destructive narratives, all carefully crafted to pervert the haemorrhaging, pitiful plight of ‘our people’. For example, while basking in the inglorious realm of massive political erasure, amid distressing repression, perpetrated by our wonderfully disgraceful leaders, an abrasive lot of immoral opportunists, Charamba warned the deaths of 17 people in January’s fuel demonstrations were ‘just a foretaste of things to come’.
In Charamba’s alarmingly repulsive world, the poverty-stricken masses who, in 2019, voted for change, choked and bled to death at the crack of propaganda-laced gunfire, the selfless masses who live undefined lives in foreign lands, the deprived masses who return home from abroad, restlessly silent and icy stiff in grim body bags, don’t exist. In the culpable act of Charamba’s splendid erasure, the masses who have dismally succumbed to the impulsive, early call of death in run down hospitals, clinics and dimly lit, famished homes in Zimbabwe, had no lives worthy of dignified fulfilment.
In Charamba’s commonly demented view, the bountiful fruits of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle must remain restricted to the violent lot who bow at the stench-filled altar of tyrannical, globetrotting leadership. As Charamba continually works on reducing a difficult, pricey and protracted struggle to establish a new, viable Zimbabwe to forever insinuating the MDC-A is a Western project, thus purposefully denying it legitimacy from the office of the presidency, no less, is anybody safe from the overpowering grasp of Zanu-PF’s exaggerated paranoia over organised dissent and US sanctions?
Indeed, is anybody safe from the propaganda behind Zanu-PF’s dubious popularity? We shouldn’t have to suffer the maddening curse of self-aggrandizing actors appropriating our pains and our future. We shouldn’t forget the petrifying terror and economic malaise Zanu-PF is spreading under the guise of US sanctions, nor forget the ‘pretty’ faces coordinating our hellish lives.
Western powers must in fact extend the sanctions on Zanu-PF elites, errant government officials and puffed-up, beauty-possessed sideshows such as Charamba. Because we have become the living dead of Africa, forever haunted by the murder of our communal identity, our multiracial people, our Zimbabwe.
However, they shouldn’t have it all their way. We shouldn’t have to die at Mpilo Central Hospital, or Harare Remand Prison, frustrated, hungry, wronged and ravaged by the humungous betrayal of inglorious civil servants such as Charamba. He will, in good time, come alive to the irrepressible fact that Zimbabwe is no longer an abstract playground for washed-up officials suffering from vapid and farcically dangerous pretensions of grand masculinity.
We shouldn’t really have to protect women and girls from the preying vengeance of a predatory ‘third force’, or a senior civil servant like Charamba, but we must, because the devil wears Prada. He supposedly means well, when throwing a fit over US sanctions, but a rich, educated monster is, nonetheless, a sordid, thieving devil. Charamba might forget that history is replete with excruciatingly vile characters that strove to mute and supplant the interminable voice of the people but failed and suffered particularly painful, humiliating endings.
Charamba forgets that history is awash with examples where the deliberate, delayed hand of fate intervened in the most unlikely of circumstances on the strength of our blood-drenched sorrows to strike a critical, joyful blow for our dead mothers, sisters and brothers. Let him be warned: we are the people. We are Zimbabwe.
Tafi Mhaka is a Johannesburg-based writer and commentator. His debut novel, Mutserendende: The African in Us, is scheduled for release in 2020. Follow him on @tafimhaka / tafi.mhaka